The MLA for Frame Lake is hoping to increase transparency around royalties and taxation of the extractive sector in the Northwest Territories.
On Monday, Kevin O’Reilly introduced a private member’s public bill titled the Resource Royalty Information Disclosure Amendment Act. It proposes changes to existing legislation that would allow the Minister of Industry, Tourism, and Investment to share mining, oil, and gas royalty information with regular MLAs and Indigenous governments for the development and evaluation of policy.
“This is a first step toward greater transparency in reporting of the monies paid to the GNWT for resource development,” O’Reilly said in a statement. “Much more work remains to be done to ensure NWT residents know what the revenues are from development, so we can better manage these resources for today and future generations.”
If passed, the bill would not allow for the disclosure of royalty information to the public, nor the disclosure of proprietary or financial information from private companies, even to regular MLAs or Indigenous governments.
O’Reilly has long criticized perceived secrecy around revenue the territorial government collects from the mining industry.
“Until the veil of secrecy is lifted on public reporting of royalties and taxation of the extractive sector, it will be impossible to have that public debate,” he said in October 2020, responding to a report commissioned by the NWT government on the competitiveness of the territory’s mining regime.
In the Legislative Assembly that same month, the MLA questioned the industry minister on the matter, saying 54 countries require public disclosure of this information – including Peru, Indonesia, Tanzania, and Mongolia. He said two owners of diamond mines in the NWT support the practice.
Minister Caroline Wawzonek responded that the territory had “inherited the current mining regime as part of devolution” but her department planned to modernize mineral resource regulations, including provisions around transparency, by 2023.
“For the moment, those regulations require confidentiality, have a confidentiality clause. It’s one to which I’m bound,” she said. “It’s not dissimilar to something that is in many other Canadian jurisdictions.”