NWT Chapter of the Council of Candians Discussion Paper – May 2013

The Council of Canadians works to:

•    Promote economic and social justice
•    Protect and expand the commons
•    Create a living democracy

The foundation of the Council’s work is education and empowerment of Canadians. At its inaugural meeting in April 2013, the NWT Chapter identified priorities and roles that could be the focus of our work. Over time, we hope to get guidance from Council members and other supporters to help us continue our planning. In the meantime, this short paper is intended to give some ‘food for thought.’

Possible Priorities for the NWT Chapter

1. Water

What are our concerns?

•    Federal deregulation through Bills C-38 and C-45, muzzling scientific research, and cuts to the public service enable industrial development to contaminate our waters.
•    Protection of 99% of Canada’s lakes and rivers was eliminated when the Navigable Waters Protection Act was wiped off the books through Bill C-45 – only three NWT water bodies are protected under the new Act.
•    Increased horizontal fracking in the NWT will use and contaminate large amounts of fresh water, which may interact with groundwater and affect our surface environment.
•    Trade and investment agreements such as CETA, TPP, and FIPPA may enable the commodification and privatization of water.
•    Quality drinking water may be compromised in Yellowknife in light of the City’s plans to relocate the source of potable water from the Yellowknife River to Yellowknife Bay.

What could the NWT Chapter do?

•    Hold public forums to discuss critical water preservation issues and provide direction to decision makers.
•    Learn about the NWT-Provincial bilateral water agreements and advocate for open discussions in the interests of northerners.
•    Educate ourselves and others about the impact of trade and investment agreements such as CETA, TPP, and FIPPA.
•    Inform NWT citizens in all regions of the risks to and loss of water associated with increased and horizontal fracking.
•    Work with governments and NGOs (such as Ecology North) to promote public education on the NWT Water Strategy.
•    Work with NGOs (such as Alternatives North) and other groups to advocate on water rights and protection as a component of the GNWT devolution process.

2. Food Security / Social Justice

What are our concerns?

•    Climate change and industrial disturbance and contamination are impacting on healthy food sources (e.g., fish resources and caribou).
•    Already such social determinants of health as food security, homelessness, and safe environment are colliding to undermine northerners’ health and well-being.
•    Governments’ focus on extractive industries is creating huge income disparities throughout the country and in the NWT.
•    Legislative and regulatory changes in Bills C-38 and C-45, massive public service cuts, and cuts to social and health programs — including to the main fibre of Canada’s social safety net, Employment Insurance — mean food security and social equality is even more precarious.

What could the NWT Chapter do?

•    Hold public forums to educate northerners about the 2013 UN Special Rapporteur’s report on the right to food in Canada.
•    Work with Ecology North, Alternatives North, Territorial Farmers’ Association, NWT/NU Public Health Association and others to educate and empower northerners on food security.
•    Facilitate public dialogue and input into the Canadian Medical Health Association’s town-hall discussions on the social determinants of health.
•    Co-sponsor public events targeting youth, on issues of climate security and social justice.

3. Treaty / Aboriginal Rights and Relationships

What are our concerns?

•    The legal rights of indigenous people are enshrined in the Constitution Act (1982), historic treaties (8 and 11), modern land claim and self-government agreements, and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
•    Bills C-38 and C-45, eight other federal laws and proposed bills (C-27, S-2, S-6, S-8, C-428, S-207, S-212, and C-47) undermine the legal rights and interests of indigenous Canadians including indigenous northerners.
•    Undermining rights is dishonorable, in some cases illegal, and strikes at the heart of democracy and social justice.
•    All northerners are negatively affected when inherent rights are ignored or undermined

What could the NWT Chapter do?

•    Work with Idle No More, the Dene Nation, and others to open public discussion on the fulfillment of Treaty and Aboriginal rights and obligations.
•    Educate northerners about Treaty and Aboriginal rights and obligations.

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Posted on August 18, 2013, in Democracy, Fracking, Healthcare, NWT Chapter Updates, Trade, Uncategorized, Water and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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