The Honourable Chuck Strahl to the Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce

by NationTalk on November 6, 20071026 Views

SPEAKING NOTES For The Honourable Chuck Strahl, PC, MP
Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-status Indians
to the
Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce
Whitehorse, Yukon
November 5, 2007

Check against delivery

Bonjour, good morning, everyone. I am very pleased to have this opportunity to speak with you today.

The North is a vibrant and diverse region. And in the October 16th Speech from the Throne, this government recognized its many opportunities and possibilities. The Prime Minister has articulated a plan to help the North realize that potential, and I’ll talk about that more in a moment.It is critical that Northerners, such as yourselves, play a key role in economic development in order to ensure tailored initiatives that reflect your needs.

We need initiatives that assist businesses in establishing themselves and achieving long-term sustainable success. And we know how the benefits of economic success can multiply. Successful businesses provide employment opportunities, contribute to the economy and help to develop stronger, more diversified local economies.

Providing a wide range of economic development programming in the Yukon is a vital factor in ensuring Northern success. To this end, I am very happy to announce funding for these important initiatives:

– the Yukon Geological Survey Windy-McKinley mapping project, which will receive almost $1,286,000 and will serve to increase the Yukon’s natural resources scientific knowledge-base;

– over $650,000 for the Council of Yukon First Nations’ Log Home project and $20,500 in support for a First Nation mining symposium – that will help build capacity development; and

– $750,000 for the Yukon Bureau of Statistics project, which will conduct a business and labour demand survey and a community profiles survey.

Our government appreciates the work of organizations like yours in promoting economic development. That’s why I’m also pleased to announce funding to the Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce for two projects to improve client service and business development. The Yukon Business Development program will be allotted nearly $154,000, and $39,000 will be used to deliver a Service and Customer Satisfaction course to the Yukon’s business community.

The safety and security of all communities in Canada are priorities for this government, and so today I am also announcing that we are investing almost $1.1 million through the Airport Capital Assistance Program toward an on-site aircraft rescue and firefighting service at the Whitehorse International Airport. This project will involve the purchase of an Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting truck, personal protective gear, and communications equipment.

The North is a significant priority for our government – we are committed to the North – to working in partnership, with groups such as yours, to improve opportunities for First Nations and Northerners.

The future of the North is a matter of critical importance to Northerners, to all Canadians, and to the world.

The Prime Minister has clearly laid out our government’s northern strategy, which also figured largely in the Speech from the Throne. It focuses on strengthening Canada’s sovereignty, protecting our environmental heritage, promoting economic and social development, and improving and devolving governance, so that Northerners have greater control over their destinies.

This strategy includes plans for a world-class Arctic research station, for example, which will be on the cutting edge of Arctic issues, including environmental science and resource development. It will be a year-round, multidisciplinary science facility that will examine questions such as climate change and adaptation in the Arctic.

We will also be completing a comprehensive mapping of Canada’s Arctic seabed. Canadian scientists are now conducting mapping surveys on Canada’s largest icebreaker in the Beaufort Sea to establish with certainty where our continental shelf begins and ends. Never before has this crucial part of Canada’s ocean floor been fully mapped.

This research will help Canada gain international recognition of our sovereign rights over seabed resources in the areas beyond our 200-mile limit.

This government already has work underway on environmental protection and sovereignty. And we have recently announced important initiatives such as the construction of a deep-water port in Nanisivik, the expansion of the Canadian Rangers in the Arctic, and the creation of the Canadian Forces Training Centre in Resolute.

We have also provided:

– Significant annual funding through new infrastructure architecture, including an annual $25 million per year to each territory, will help to build the modern infrastructure which is fundamental to the future of the North;

– $300 million to improve housing in the North;

– A commitment to strengthening and renewing the territorial financing formula;

Most notably, Canada has invested $150 million and taken a leadership role in International Polar Year 2007-2008. Our efforts ensured that this IPY would be the first to focus on the human dimension of polar science activity – it is the first such event to place the people of the North at the centre of the initiative.

This international program of coordinated scientific research involves more that 60 countries and thousands of scientists. It presents an important opportunity for Canada to collaborate with other nations, and generate valuable information that can be used to protect our environment and to ensure the health and well-being of Canadians living in the North.

Through broad initiatives like IPY, as well as targeted investments in social and economic development, our government will continue to work with organizations such as the Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce, the three territorial governments, and First Nation governments, to improve opportunities, to ensure a strong, prosperous future for the North.

I wish you all the best.

Thank you.

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