The Northwest Territories government and the Mackenzie Delta gas producers are worried that leadership feuding within the Canadian government is undermining decision-making on the proposed Mackenzie Valley pipeline, says Northwest Territories Premier Stephen Kakfwi.
In Alberta this week for meetings with the energy industry, Kakfwi said Aug. 28 that executives of the gas-producing companies are becoming worried that a decision on transferring control of northern resources to northerners has become bogged down.
He said Indian Affairs Minister Robert Nault had promised to name a negotiator to resolve the devolution of powers and revenue-sharing by the end of March.
"This is the end of August, Where is the negotiator?" Kakfwi said.
Progress has been sidetracked by a summer showdown between Prime Minister Jean Chretien and the front-runner to replace him as leader of the governing Liberal Party, former Finance Minister Paul Martin.
Martin recently resigned from the cabinet to pursue his leadership aspirations and Chretien, with his support rapidly waning, announced earlier this month that he would step down no later than February 2004.
Kakfwi said the failure to resolve the resource-control issue is already resulting in crumbling aboriginal support for the Mackenzie Valley pipeline.
He said some smaller Native communities have withdrawn from an agreement that established the terms of an aboriginal equity stake in a pipeline and the holdout Deh Cho First Nation, whose lands affect about half of the pipeline route, is still withholding its signature.