Whether you like it or not – and not everyone does – the devolution agreement between the Northwest Territories and Canada is effectively a done deal.
The so-called consensus draft of the agreement can be found here. http://devolution.gov.nt.ca/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/Plain-Language-Summary-Proposed-NWT-Lands-and-Resources-Devolution-Agreement.pdf
But there was a solemn signing ceremony at the Legislative Assembly Monday. Premier Bob McLeod even quoted beloved Northern crooner Ted Wesley: “O Canada, look north and see / the sleeping giant breaking free.” Handshakes proliferated.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper was even there. “The heavy lifting is done, the issues are resolved, and negotiators have reached consensus on the terms of a final devolution agreement,” he declared. That would appear to settle the matter.
Except not quite. There remains, if not heavy lifting, some light aerobics to be done. The federal government is obliged to consult aboriginal groups to ensure the agreement doesn’t run afoul of existing treaties, work that begins in earnest soon. And the territorial government pledges to conduct “engagement sessions” – whatever those are – this summer. But as a GNWT source admitted to me yesterday, “Not everything’s on the table.”