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Defeated minister calls on mining industry to lobby NWT

Dave Ramsay urged mining executives to maintain pressure on the territorial government as the NWT Geoscience Forum opened, a day after losing his seat.

Ramsay, 45, was beaten by Kieron Testart in the Yellowknife district of Kam Lake in Monday’s territorial election.

He remains the NWT’s minister of industry, trade and investment (and minister of justice) until mid-December, when new appointments will be made within the incoming set of 19 MLAs.

“Overall, our industry continues to take the punches and rise above,” said Ramsay. “That’s a testament to the individuals involved. Your role is seeing that this continues to be at the forefront of government’s thinking.

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“We have tremendous opportunities in the area of mining and we each have a job to do – that’s to continue to impress upon the government the importance that mining plays here in the NWT.

“It’s been great to be the minister and I wish the industry well. There hasn’t been a bigger promoter and supporter of the industry over the past four years than myself. I’ll continue to be a champion for mining.”

Full details: NWT Geoscience Forum 2015

Ramsay spent the past four years leading territorial efforts to court mineral industries and bolster exploration within the NWT, while insisting he remained committed to preserving the environment.

His looming departure from territorial politics will leave a hole in that regard on cabinet, with the industry file now vacant and no clear frontrunner to assume it.

Meanwhile, Michael McLeod – making one of his first speaking appearances since becoming the territory’s Liberal MP in October – urged Geoscience Forum attendees to work with the peoples of the NWT.

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“We will end the practice of having federal ministers interfere in the environment process,” McLeod told delegates.

“We all must ensure local peoples are included in decision-making. It’s important that we use – in a meaningful way – local and Aboriginal knowledge to mitigate development while stimulating the economy.

“We live in an almost-pristine part of the world. If carried out sustainably, we can create a healthy economy while maintaining its beauty.

“We need to develop a revival path to prosperity. Now is the time to work together by investing in much-needed infrastructure, training and educating our youth, and making the settlement of land claims a priority for all levels of government.”


New Yellowknife MLAs and their positions on mining

Kevin O’Reilly: “A lot of people think of me as an environmentalist but I don’t think that’s all that I am. Mining is an essential part of our economy. We need to make sure there’s fair return to the public purse from mining and it’s time we looked at royalties and taxation. They’ve undertaken the same reviews in Alberta when it comes to the oil and gas industries and we should do the same here, especially in light of Devolution. We have a good resource management system in place now, the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act, and that needs to be supported and implemented in the way it was meant to be, not piecemeal – cherry-picked or pulled apart as the previous federal government did. I’m prepared to work with the mining industry but at the same time we need to protect the environment and make sure the benefits from mining stay in the North.”

Julie Green: “We are in a slump now and that’s going to continue for some time. We need to look at smaller-scale diversification – for example, there are good numbers of jobs associated with the forestry industry, cutting wood and using it as wood or turning the sawdust into pellets. I’m interested in putting more money into the other sustainable economies like tourism, trapping, arts and crafts. They wouldn’t generate the wealth that the mines do but they would give people viable and sustainable employment.”

Caroline Cochrane-Johnson: “Mineral exploration has for a long time been the backbone of the economy. I would be the last person to say we need to stop it. We do, though, need to look at cleaner alternatives and be sure another Giant Mine doesn’t happen in future. We need to really enforce our policies around management and environmental care.”

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Kieron Testart: “Projects should go ahead where they make sense and maximize economic benefits to local and regional economies, while mitigating potential liabilities. I will prioritize investing all resource royalties into the NWT Heritage Fund to generate stronger dividend returns for the future needs of Northerners, scrapping the controversial Conservation Areas Action Plan and returning to consultations with industry, Aboriginal governments, and members of public on the best way forward for conservation in the NWT.”

Cory Vanthuyne: “We are a resource-based economy and resource extraction is that economy – nearly 30 percent of our GDP right now comes from the diamond industry and another 20 percent is at arm’s length in support of that industry. I support the ability to make exploration not necessarily easier – it has to be practical and responsible – but I support it taking place. It’s a necessity to grow the resource extraction industry in the sense of not having all of our eggs in the diamond basket – I see that as being very risky. We need to support other ventures by investing in the proper infrastructure: telecommunications, transportation, power supply. Those will be key priorities for investment to expand resource extraction in the coming years.”

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