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Talk devolution, premier urges
Eva Aariak sits down with prime minister for one-on-one discussion about Nunavut's priorities

Miranda Scotland
Northern News Services
Published Saturday, August 24, 2013

Premier Eva Aariak is anxious for Nunavut to begin face-to-face negotiations on devolution with the federal government and says it's been taking too long for the process to get underway.

NNSL photo/graphic

Posing with Inuit members of the Canadian Rangers wearing traditional clothing in Gjoa Haven Aug. 21 is Laureen Harper, left, Canadian Rangers Patrol Group member Eva Keanik, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Canadian Rangers Patrol Group member Jacob Atkitchok. - Jason Ransom/PMO photo

Aariak expressed her concerns with Stephen Harper recently during a one-on-one talk the two had while the prime minister was in Nunavut on a tour of the North.

"I find things are moving very, very slowly," Aariak told reporters in Rankin Inlet.

"I am getting more and more concerned about the fact that the start of devolution negotiations is taking longer than expected."

In an Aug. 22 news release, Aariak stated Harper reiterated to her his support for devolution and he noted "the federal government would be ready to engage in substantive negotiations before 2014."

However, in a revised version of the statement, the part about substantive talks was omitted.

In June, the NWT signed its own devolution agreement, leaving Nunavut the last remaining jurisdiction without control over its own land and resources.

During the premier's chat with Harper, she also broached the topic of hydro development.

Aariak expressed to Harper the need for the federal government to provide support in this area.

"Nunavut is 100 per cent reliant on diesel to generate energy in all of our 25 communities," stated Aariak.

"And a direct federal investment in a hydro plant in Iqaluit will reduce the amount of diesel that Nunavut has to import by one third, and reduce the cost of generating electricity by at least half while profiting the whole territory."

She further discussed the necessity of having a better search and rescue capacity and federal investment in marine infrastructure.

"Nunavut has 40 per cent of the nation's coastline but by far the poorest marine infrastructure," she said.

"Federal investment will help local fishers provide affordable food to their communities, promote our growing fishing industry and bring down our high cost of living and doing business."

Before meeting with Aariak, Harper stopped in Gjoa Haven where he got a little muddy while participating in an Arctic military exercise with Canadian Rangers from the hamlet.

He also marked the expansion of the organization by welcoming Coral Harbour's private Nigel Nakoolak as the 5,00oth Ranger.

"Our government has expanded the Canadian Rangers, our eyes and ears of the North, as they serve a critical role in safeguarding Canadian sovereignty," Harper stated in a news release.

"It was an honour to patrol with the Rangers today, as they work to defend our territory from potential threats and emergencies and keep our North strong, secure and free."

There are currently than 5,000 Rangers in 178 patrols in the North, a 25 per cent increase since 2007.

The Rangers are also evolving their technological capabilities, including the use of electronic tracking and digital imagery equipment.

As well, the Rangers' Lee Enfield rifles will be replaced with new 7.62-mm bolt action rifles, scheduled for delivery in 2016, a news release from the Prime Minister's Office stated.

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