Devolution and Constitutional Development in the Canadian North

Devolution and Constitutional Development in the Canadian North

edited by Gurston Dacks
Copyright Date: 1990
Pages: 386
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  • Book Info
    Devolution and Constitutional Development in the Canadian North
    Book Description:

    Six specialists on northern Canadian issues examine the transfer of power from the federal government to the governments of the Yukon and Northwest Territories. Land claims, aboriginal self-government, division of the NWT, the territorial governments' pursuit of fuller recognition in Canadian federalism and devolution all interact in confusing ways. This book makes the best sense of the complex processes underway in the Canadian north.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-8151-7
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-xii)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-12)
    Gurston Dacks

    Great Britain’s cession of Rupert’s Land to Canada in 1870 began a process of constitutional development which is only now entering its final stages. L.H. Thomas’ admirable book.The Straggle for Responsible Government in the North-West Territories 1870-97,¹describes this process by which the territorial government and its relations with Ottawa matured to the point at which provincial status for Alberta and Saskatchewan became inevitable.

    The Yukon and the Northwest Territories are today treading a path which leads in the same direction but which takes a more complex and interesting route. The constitutional development of Canada’s northern Territories today differs...

  5. 1 Politics by Remote Control: Historical Perspective on Devoluation in Canada’s North
    (pp. 13-42)
    Peter Clancy

    Since 1985, the issue of devolution has assumed a leading role the political agendas of Canada’s northern Territories. It has accelerated the prospect of territorial autonomy, even if full provincial standing under the constitution remains elusive. The advent of devolution has also complicated the process of settling aboriginal claims, in no small part because Ottawa appears to simultaneously negotiating the same issues at two separate “tables”. Equally, the federal government’s willingness to accelerate the transfer of jurisdictions and administrative programs the territories, after at least two decades of prevarication, raises serious questions about Ottawa’s long-range commitment and intentions in the...

  6. Case Studies
    • 2 Who Benefits? Devolution of Forest Fire Control and Forest Management to the Northwest Territories and Yukon
      (pp. 43-70)
      Frances Abele

      Responsibility for forest fire control and forest management passed from the federal to the Northwest Territories (NWT) government on April 1, 1987. The Yukon is currently engaged in devolution negotiations, with the actual transfer projected for spring 1991.¹ Included in both transfers are the personnel, funding and physical assets (such as buildings and equipment) associated with fire control and forest management. Each territorial government gains the power to set forestry and fire control policy, but ownership of the forests and the land upon which the trees grow is retained by the Crown.

      Northerners, particularly those in the NWT, sought the...

    • 3 Political Devolution and Wildlife Management
      (pp. 71-120)
      Peter Clancy

      To discuss questions of wildlife is to tap a wellspring of northern politics. It is by any measure a “Valence” issue, which sharply defines some of the most basic issues of power in the North. Wildlife has been one of the most durable objects of public policy, dating back to the nineteenth century. When the state has intervened, whether in the name of conservation, of protecting native peoples, or of shaping economic growth, its wildlife policies have had a profound impact on northern life. This remains as true today as yesterday. The most basic co-ordinates of wildlife policy are politically...

    • 4 The Devolution of Health Care to Canada’s North
      (pp. 121-156)
      Geoffrey Weller

      The concept of devolution in the Canadian context involves processes of both constitutional and administrative development the Yukon and the Northwest Territories. However, the term “devolution” often conjures up the wrong imagery. It is often thought of as implying a greater regional control or influence within a fully established state structure. In fact, the process taking place in Canada might be more appropriately thought of one of “decolonization”, for Canada’s northern Territories long been internal colonies.¹ In short, Canada is a country in the process of completion, not in the process of decentralizing to a northern “region.”

      Devolution in the...

    • 5 The Impact of Devolution on Health Services In the Baffin Region, NWT: A Csse Study
      (pp. 157-194)
      John D. O’Neil

      Since their Introduction in the 1950s and 60s, government administered health services in the Northwest Territories have been distinctly colonial in character.¹ The aboriginal population had previously relied during times of sickness and distress on local practitioners – shamans, medicine men, herbalists and midwives – but now became increasingly dependent on nonnative professional nurses and doctors working for the federal government. Typical of other federal bureaucracies, most decisions about northern health problems or issues were made at senior administrative levels, far removed from northern community interests. Colonial attitudes permeated the system, from policy decisions which fostered cultural assimilation and dependence on southern...

    • 6 Devoluation and Local Government
      (pp. 195-224)
      Katherine A. Graham

      This chapter explores the interplay between the initiative in the 1980s to devolve powers and program responsibilities from the federal government to the Northwest Territories and Yukon Territory and the evolution of local government in those two places. In this context, local government is taken to mean those community bodies with legislative and administrative responsibilities established under theMunicipal Actin the Yukon Territory or under one of the various pieces of local government legislation within the purview of the Minister of Municipal and Community Affairs in the NWT.¹

      It is important to understand that any examination of the evolution...

    • 7 The Quest for Northern Oil and Gas Accords
      (pp. 225-266)
      Gurston Dacks

      In September of 1988, the Government of Canada signed “enabling agreements” with the two territorial governments declaring their commitment to the devolution of responsibility for the management of oil and gas resources north of 60° and for the sharing of revenues to be derived from these resources. These agreements anticipate the negotiation of Northern Accords which will devolve to the territorial governments a jewel in the devolution crown one of the most important provincialtype powers which has not yet been transferred to the North. This paper will describe the interplay of interests which is shaping the Northern Accords, the process...

  7. Themes and Linkages
    • 8 Implementing the Policy to Devolve: Learning by Doing
      (pp. 267-294)
      Katherine A. Graham

      It is important to step back from the Individual case studies of devolution recounted in this volume to consider whether any general patterns emerge in the negotiation of devolution agreements. In essence, this represents an examination of the implementation of the federal government’s policy to devolve additional responsibilities to the two Territories and the territorial government’s corresponding policy of embracing devolution, when it seems appropriate.

      This thematic examination of devolution negotiations through the prism of implementation is worthwhile for at least two reasons.¹ First, it will help to inform future negotiations. Devolution of responsibilities from the federal government to the...

    • 9 The Democratic Potential in Administrative Expansion: Assessing the Impact of the Transfer of Governing Responsibilities from the Federal Government to the Governments of the Yukon and Northwest Territories
      (pp. 295-316)
      Frances Abele

      Two general goals shape this chapter. The first is to arrive at a preliminary assessment of the northern impact of the current wave of devolution. The second is to work from this assessment to propose a particular analytical framework for thinking about devolution. The framework is meant to encourage creativity and experimentation towards a mode of northern administration that is efficient and appropriate to the special circumstances and aspirations of the Territories. Although it is not my purpose to demonstrate this here, the framework I will propose could also contribute to all forms of institution-building that will occupy northerners for...

    • 10 Devolution, Regionalism and Division of the Northwest Territories
      (pp. 317-334)
      Geoffrey R. Weller

      Canada is a politically incomplete nation. Some 45 percent of its land area is not organized into provinces and remains federal territory. The path of political development in the largest part of this area, the Northwest Territories (NWT), has been complicated. Three processes have been going on at once, creating a great deal of confusion. Firstly, there has been an accelerated process of devolution of authority from the federal government to the Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT). Secondly, there have been voices within the NWT, especially those of organizations representing indigenous populations, wishing to enhance regional structures of all...

    • 11 Devolution and Political Development in the Canadian North
      (pp. 335-364)
      Gurston Docks

      In Canada’s North, constitutional and political development are engaged in an intricate dance, each guiding the pace and direction of the other in ways which are complex and fluid. In part, these complexities reflect the fact that the constitutional development suite involves the intricate orchestration of a variety of simultaneous motifs in the North. These include the pursuit of regional government, territorial division and changes to the form of public government in the Northwest Territories, and, in both territories, aboriginal claims, aboriginal selfgovernment and the approach to provincial status. The dance is also complicated because northern politics brings together different...

  8. Index
    (pp. 365-373)