The federal and Quebec governments say they are ready to introduce legislation that will allow for oil-and-gas production in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, with the province capturing any revenues that flow from the development.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper made the announcement during an event in Sept-Îles, Que., on Tuesday, more than three years after his government reached a tentative offshore agreement with the government of Quebec.
The federal and provincial bills are to be tabled before the end of the year – would create a joint offshore board similar to those in Newfoundland and Labrador and in Nova Scotia to manage the exploration and development of the resources.
The government of Canada estimates that the Gulf of St. Lawrence and surrounding areas has the potential for 39 trillion cubic feet of gas and 1.5 billion barrels of oil.
One company, Corridor Resources Ltd., is planning to drill in Newfoundland waters of the Gulf, at a site called Old Harry. However, Corridor has been stymied as the offshore board there continues to review the environment assessment for the plan, and faces opposition from First Nations, fishing groups and residents' association through Quebec and Atlantic Canada.
Last July, an alliance of Innu, Maliseet and Mi'kmaq called for a 12-year moratorium on offshore oil and gas development in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. On Tuesday, the alliance issued statement urging the Canada-Newfoundland offshore board not to extend Corridor's licence to drill at Old Harry.
"There is a duty to consult First Nations that has not been upheld thus far in this process," said Troy Jerome, executive director of the Mi'gmawei Mawiomi Secretariat.
"It makes no sense for the C-NLOPB to issue another license extension to Corridor Resources, when First Nations have called for a 12-year moratorium – unless they plan to give Corridor a 12 year extension." Mr. Jerome said.