Yesterday, the Nordic Council of Ministers published its second collection of essays on polar law, Polar Law Textbook II, edited by Natalia Loukacheva, Nansen Professor of Arctic Studies at the University of Akureyri. In his contribution to the collection, entitled “Destiny or dream: Sharing resources, revenues and political power in Nunavut devolution”, Tony Penikett cited my article “Nunavut, Greenland and the politics of resource revenues“:
Of course, successful devolution negotiations must produce a net fiscal benefit for the territory. Anthony Speca has questioned whether any of Canada’s northern territories — Yukon or NWT or, eventually, Nunavut — could achieve as good a resource-revenue sharing deal with Canada as Greenland received from Denmark. As Speca writes, “Denmark agreed to reduce the grant by just half of Greenland’s resource income, and subjected the first DKK 75 million ($14 million) collected annually to no corresponding reduction at all” (Speca:62).
Penikett then goes on to ask:
What is at stake? . . . Without devolution and a fair share of energy and mineral resource revenues from their lands, Nunavut will have little capacity to care for the health or the education of future generations. Indeed, devolution might be the only prospect the territory has for building a private sector and for providing prosperity, physical health and mental health for future generations.
When the world has extracted the last of the North’s diamonds, oil and ice, what will be left for the people there? Will they have heritage or sovereign wealth funds or will they be left with holes in the ground? Why should Ottawa, rather than northerners, get to exercise “provincial” jurisdiction on
Nunavut’s lands? Is Ottawa ready to answer that question?
Powerful questions — and as I argued in my recent article for Northern Public Affairs, “Political vision and fiscal reality in Canada’s North“, I think the answer to the last of them must be an emphatic “No”.
Read Penikett’s full contribution to Polar Law Textbook II, available from the Nordic Council’s website.