Power talk ahead
Hub hosts intergovernmental forum

Richard Gleeson
Northern News Services

Hay River (May 01/00) - Money and power will be the focus of a meeting of territorial and political leaders in Hay River this week.

Premier Stephen Kakfwi is chairing a one-day intergovernmental forum Friday, that will include Indian and Northern Affairs leader Robert Nault and NWT aboriginal groups.

The purpose of the forum is to start discussion of how governmental relations will be changed as land claims are settled in the NWT. A focus will be the sharing up of resource revenues, currently collected by the federal government, aboriginal governments and public government.

Intergovernmental forum organizer for the GNWT, Richard Bargery, described the mood of all the parties going into the meeting as "fairly upbeat -- people are anxious to get together to talk about partnerships."

Bargery said leaders of all aboriginal groups have indicated they will be attending. He cautioned the meeting is the beginning of dealing with issues such as resource revenue sharing.

"Those are complex subjects not to be decided in one meeting," said Bargery. "Identification of the broad issues at this meeting, I would say would be a very good start."

During a visit to Yellowknife last fall, Nault said he and the federal government are willing to move as fast as Northern leaders want to move on transferring resource revenues to the territories.

Though there is not yet consensus on how resource revenues would be shared up, there is no shortage of incentive for Northern leaders to figure out a way to do it.

The Diavik diamond mine alone is expected to pay $500 million in resource revenues over the 19-year life of the mine.

Last year, aboriginal leaders indicated they would support the development of an aboriginal-owned pipeline down the Mackenzie Valley. Oil and gas exploration in the south Mackenzie is booming. The territorial government is also looking to resource revenues as a way to reduce its $250-million debt.