"...While the premier of the Northwest Territories is touting the devolution agreement signed in Yellowknife on Mar. 11 as a "done deal," federal Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development (AANDC) Minister Bernard Valcourt said last week the consensus draft is anything but final.
"No agreement has been reached yet. There is a consensus on the terms of the agreement. The consultation must take place, it is taking place and when this has been accomplished we will know what the conditions will be," Valcourt said during a special committee of the whole meeting that focused on AANDC Thursday evening in Ottawa.
Bevington said he was confused by Valcourt's response, given remarks made by NWT Premier Bob McLeod referring to the devolution agreement as a "take it or leave it," "done deal" amid controversy over the territorial government's supposed "public engagement" sessions, which have since been relabelled informational sessions. "I am sure this is news to everyone who is listening in the Northwest Territories," Bevington said to Valcourt. Valcourt said the consultation was referred to by Prime Minister Stephen Harper at the devolution signing in Yellowknife. "The Prime Minister was very clear. He said that the heavy lifting had been done and that there was a consensus reached on the terms for an agreement. I was present and he clearly said that consultations have to take place with the Aboriginal communities. Until that is done, there is no agreement."..."