MR. SIMPSON: On October 24th, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and the Coast Guard announced that they would create a new administrative and operational region focused solely on the Arctic. According to the Minister of DFO, Minister Wilkinson, decisions about policy, resource management, and conservation should be made in the North in collaboration with territorial and Indigenous governments. One of the first decisions was to hire a new assistant commissioner of the Coast Guard and place that position in Yellowknife.
Why the position will be based in Yellowknife when operations are based in Hay River, and DFO has a big building with a lot of office space, is a little confusing to me and a little concerning to the residents of Hay River. I would like to get to the bottom of it. I have some questions for our territorial counterpart to the federal Minister of DFO, the Minister of Infrastructure.
My first question is: because the federal Minister sited collaboration with territorial governments as a key element in the creation of this new region, what consultation occurred between the territorial government and DFO regarding the location of the new assistant commissioner position? Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
MR. SPEAKER: Masi. Minister of Infrastructure.
HON. WALLY SCHUMANN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. As far as I am aware of, there was no consultation done with my department. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
MR. SIMPSON: It’s like the old days all over again, when Ottawa was calling the shots up here. Since this decision was announced just last week, has the Minister inquired about DFO’s plans and if they plan to move operations to Yellowknife?
HON. WALLY SCHUMANN: As this announcement just came out lately, and we have been in session and I have been travelling, I have not had a direction conversation with the federal Minister about moving any of their operations or any discussion about this new position.
MR. SIMPSON: Can I get the Minister to commit to having those conversations so that he can share that information with the House?
HON. WALLY SCHUMANN: Yes, when this announcement came out, I am looking forward to having a discussion with the Minister of DFO and see what their long-term plans are around moving any types of operations around and this new position as well, and having a discussion about this new Arctic region.
MR. SPEAKER: Masi. Oral questions. Member for Hay River North.
MR. SIMPSON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. It is always a challenge to stop the flow of centralization to Yellowknife. We need jobs in our other communities as well. In addition to chatting about the future of this, can the Minister also commit to supporting keeping those positions in Hay River? Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
HON. WALLY SCHUMANN: Of course, we are committed to keeping what we have in Hay River around the marine facilities as well. There has been much debate in this House lately about how we operate MTS and what our long-term plan should be around that. It makes sense to keep MTS and the Coast Guard located in Hay River. That is both of their headquarters, and we will continue to work collaboratively with the federal government. If there are any plans of changing anything and updating the committee, I will do so. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.