Ministerial Question Period: Arctic Research Foundation

By: The Hon. Dawn Anderson

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Hon. Margaret Dawn Anderson: Minister Murray, your government is investing $7.46 million to the co-management of marine protected areas in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region. However, no plans have been announced to conduct stock assessments, bathymetric surveys or other fundamental ecosystem studies despite consistent requests from nearby communities, scientists and hunter and trapper committees.

The research vessel Nahidik II, operated by the non-profit Arctic Research Foundation, or ARF, serves communities in the region. ARF has offered to invest its own money in the project and can conduct the work more cost effectively and with less environmental impact; however, it would require an investment of $1.5 million from the federal government. This investment would enable crucial stock assessments, scientific studies and foster traditional and cultural knowledge.

Will you commit to working with the communities and the Arctic Research Foundation to bring sufficient funding to the region to complete stock assessments and begin baseline ecosystem studies in the marine protected areas within the Inuvialuit Settlement Region?

Hon. Joyce Murray, P.C., M.P., Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard: Thank you for that question. I will commit to getting a briefing and reviewing the situation that the senator is describing.

The reality is that funds go through Treasury Board, and any funds we have access to are dedicated to specific initiatives that we’ve committed to. Whether there is funding for the Inuvialuit conservation research processes, I can’t answer right now.

However, I spent a week travelling the Arctic, starting in the Northwest Territories and going right through to the eastern coast of the Arctic, to understand the critical issues. I met with Indigenous peoples wherever I went and heard about the concerns and opportunities that they see in front of them. I’m very committed to our Arctic region. We recently stood up a new Arctic region that will be based out of Iqaluit because we want to have a presence on the ground, but we have not been able to move all our public servants there yet. That is taking time because of the increase in wages and the cost of housing and office space. However, I spent a number of days talking with the Canadian Coast Guard.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Minister, we have to move to the next question.

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