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Minister over-rules review board

Richard Gleeson
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Feb 08/02) - The board that was established to give Northerners more control over development was over-ruled by Ottawa when it came time to select its chairman.

Indian Affairs and Northern Development Minister Robert Nault appointed Todd Burlingame chairman of the Mackenzie Valley Environmental Impact Review Board against the wishes of the board.

At a meeting in mid-December, the board recommended the term of chairman Gordon Lennie be extended for another term, said board member Gordon Wray.

"There's nothing really to talk about, we made our recommendation, the minister didn't accept it, end of story," Wray said. He referred other questions about the appointment to Nault. Nault was unavailable for comment by deadline, but a spokesperson for his office said part of the reason for the appointment was that Lennie was not in a position to participate in board discussions of oil and gas projects.

"It was felt that the board required someone who would be able to join in those discussions directly," said Alastair Mullin. Lennie said he excused himself from the discussions because he was a member of the aboriginal pipeline working group, which was attempting to negotiate aboriginal participation in a Mackenzie Valley pipeline.