CARC wants responsible development
Ottawa-based organization has an impact in the North

Richard Gleeson
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Feb 18/00) - For years it has been one of the loudest critics of the federal government's handling of resource development in the North, but most people know little about the Canadian Arctic Resources Committee.

CARC was highly critical of both the environmental reviews of the BHP and Diavik diamond projects and has criticized the government's handling of other mines.

Some see the group as one that stalls development proposals in red tape.

But CARC's executive director says the organization has never been opposed to development.

"What we're looking for is cautious, measured, responsible development," says John Crump.

CARC's stated goal is to influence government policy and private industry to promote sustainable development in the North.

"In the North, economic cycles are either boom or bust, with not much else in between," says Crump, disputing the perception that CARC is an environmental organization. "Our intent is to try to generate ideas about how Northern economies can be more diversified, rather than always being subjected to the cycles of resource development."

Established 30 years ago, CARC is a small, non-profit, non-government organization based in Ottawa.

Crump says CARC has three full-time employees and one part-timer. Kevin O'Reilly is the organization's research director, and works with a part-time employee.

"It's a small organization," says Crump. "Like other non-government organizations, it's pretty lean and mean."

NWT Chamber of Mines president Mike Vaydik said CARC has as much right to voice its concerns as any organization or individual.

"I'm not against a lot of the stuff they stand for and they're not against a lot of what we do," says Vaydik.

Asked if he felt CARC was making a positive contribution to the North, Vaydik responds, "It's pretty difficult to answer that. They come at these (issues) from a legalistic rather than scientific perspective. There's no question in my mind they don't do enough science."

Like many proponents of mining projects in the North, Vaydik says he questioned who CARC represents.

Crump said CARC has a membership of 5,000. He could not say how many of those members reside in the North, but said the "majority of members, just because of population distribution, are in the south."

Crump said he would describe himself as "a displaced Northerner," having lived a total of six years in the Yukon -- "which I know in the NWT doesn't count as Northern."

Crump said Ottawa is the ideal location for any organization seeking to influence federal government policy. "CARC has always had an office here -- it was felt in the beginning, prior to the Berger process ... the way to try to influence government is to be where the national government is."

He would not discuss the organization's budget, except to say it is small. The organization, he says, relies on donations, mostly from individuals.