Thursday, November 5, 2015

Federal Cabinet selections could play major role in Northwest issues

The newly announced Cabinet of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
set to get to work on a number of key areas of importance for the Northwest

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau introduced his new cabinet on Wednesday, with the announcements made and oaths of office taken at an impressive ceremony at Rideau Hall, providing Canadians with their first glance at a new Liberal team and a what appears to be a new direction for the Federal government.

Following Wednesday's cabinet ceremony, the Prime Minister provided a statement of introduction of his new team and what they hope to achieve through the course of their mandate.

For those viewing on television across the Northwest, some of the names mentioned yesterday will become more familiar than others, as a number of key portfolios will have a direct impact on life in the region and for some of the industrial development that has been proposed in the past.

Among the obvious Cabinet positions of some interest to the Northwest, the Natural Resources and Environment and Climate Change portfolios will have a significant influence on a number of resource driven plans for the region.

When it comes to the many LNG projects proposed for across the Northwest, final approval will fall to the Federal cabinet and the recommendations of those key ministers and their departments, will be of significant importance towards any forward movement for proposed developments.

Beyond the immediate files related to LNG, the other key elements of the Natural resources overview will include what to do about the Northern Gateway proposal, as well as a number of other oil and gas pipeline and terminal proposals that have been revealed over the last few years.

One other controversial topic of the past, the issue of oil tankers on the north coast will be high on the list of topics to look at for the new Liberal government, which as an opposition party in the past had not indicated much of an interest in moving forward those initiatives.

The Ministers overseeing those areas include:

James Gordon Carr -- Minister of Natural Resources
Catherine McKenna -- Minister of Environment and Climate Change

Industry will also play a key role in the Northwest and there appears to be a number of Ministers that will play a role when it comes to expanding the industrial base for the region.

Navdeep Singh Bains -- Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development
Chrystia Freeland -- Minister of International Trade
Marc Garneau -- Minister of Transport
Lawrence McCaulay -- Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food
Scott Brison -- Treasury Board

Will the Liberals keep RTI part of
the For Sale listings is one item
of interest for the North Coast
Among the potential issues for the Industrial base of the North coast, will be the fate of Ridley Terminals, currently a Crown Corporation. Over the last few years of the Conservative Government efforts had been made to put the Terminal up for potential sale, though apparently not to much success.

Whether that will remain the plan of the Federal Government under Mr. Trudeau's Liberals remains to be seen. As well, perhaps of more concern for those involved at RTI, may be what the Liberal's new Environment and Climate Change Minister may have to say about the future of the coal industry.

As well, policies that affect the crops of Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Alberta could have an impact on future shipment levels through Prince Rupert Grain, in addition to any decisions that may affect the Potash industry, with the community still hopeful one day of the development of the Canpotex Potash Terminal at Ridley Island.

The issues of Highway 16
were a main focus for the
Liberals during the campaign
First Nations issues across the region will find a new look it would seem through Carolyn Bennett, the new Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs.

Perhaps one of the first of the Liberal campaign promises, that of a review into the Missing and Murdered Women issue will come either through Minister Bennett, or as seems more likely, by way of the new Justice Minister and Attorney General of Canada, Jody Wilson-Raybould a former Crown Prosecutor and Regional Chief of the BC Assembly of First Nations.

Carolyn Bennett -- Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs
Jody Wilson-Rabould -- Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Being a community with a strong attachment to the fishery, those involved with the industry and First Nations on the North Coast will be watching with much interest as to the direction that Hunter Tootoo will take the Pacific fishing industry. Mr. Tootoo who is from Nunavut has also been given responsibility for the Coast Guard, which has a significant presence in the region.

Hunter Tootoo -- Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard

And for Mayor Lee Brain and City Council, the name to keep in mind when it comes to a range of infrastructure concerns is that of Amarjeet Sohi.

Infrastructure is a key issue
for the new Federal Gov't

(photo from City of PR)
Mr. Sohi has been appointed to the position of Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, a key portfolio for a Prime Minister that has identified infrastructure as a key element of his next four years.

When it comes moving forward on the growing wish list of infrastructure issues that the City of Prince Rupert has listed in recent months, it will be Mr. Sohi's office that provides the gateway to financial assistance and where the City may find success in delivering their municipal infrastructure plans.

Amarjeet Sohi -- Minister of Infrastructure and Communities

It will of course take a bit of time for the new ministers to find their way around their portfolios, but at some point in the future, many of the names listed above may one day be found poking around the region, looking to learn more about what the Northwest has to offer and how the region can provide for some economic security for the nation.

It will be up to the provincial and local leaders in the region to make sure that the requirements of the Northwest indeed make it onto to a to do list as the new Ministers begin to make their plans for their individual responsibilities.

For notes on events out of Ottawa that have an impact on the Northwest, as well as the efforts of NDP MP Nathan Cullen see our archive page here.

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