It’s good to see Premier Bob McLeod show his teeth a little bit.

On Aug. 31, he teamed up with Yukon Premier Sandy Silver and Nunavut Premier Peter Taptuna to host a news conference at the legislative assembly. The overarching theme of the conference couldn’t be more milquetoast – the first line of the accompanying news release states the leaders met to discuss “how they are working together” to create better opportunities for Northerners.

Luckily, McLeod cut right through the bureaucratic babble to address two sore spots between Ottawa and the North – a ban on Arctic Ocean offshore drilling and the looming carbon tax.

When asked what McLeod would do if Prime Minister Justin Trudeau didn’t heed his warning that a carbon tax would be devastating to the North, he said: “We can withdraw from the processes. We can not fly the Canadian flag, like (ex-Newfoundland premier) Danny Williams did. We can take the ‘true North, strong and free’ out of the Canadian national anthem.”

McLeod finished up the thought by backing away from these threats, admitting co-operation is the best way forward. That said, the frustration palpable in his words billowed up again later in the conference when a southern reporter asked McLeod why he’s so upset about Trudeau’s unilateral ban on offshore drilling in the Arctic, considering there is no work going on there right now anyway.

“I think you really describe yourself with a perfect southern point of view with that question,” he told the reporter.

There was a bit of an elephant in the room, in the form of McLeod’s brother, NWT MP Michael McLeod, one of Trudeau’s 182 Liberal MPs in the House of Commons. After the November 2015 election, there was a theory that the family ties between the legislative assembly and Ottawa would help with co-operation between the two governments. While the Liberal government has been generous with infrastructure funding, it just doesn’t seem like Ottawa is listening on other concerns, including the carbon tax.

The reality is, the North is firmly tied to fossil fuels, whether it be through travel between fly-in communities, diesel energy, propane and oil for heating during long winters, gas for long commutes, or the extraction industry, which drives the economy. Further raising an already sky-high cost of living through a carbon tax will make life in the North financially untenable for some people.

Trudeau’s unilateral offshore drilling ban is equally distressing for the North, for the same reason.

These actions are indicative of Ottawa’s “perfect southern point of view” that praises environmental ideals while ignoring realities of life the North.

Hopefully Premier McLeod keeps up the assertive attitude because the territorial government will never get through to southern leaders without it.

 Diamonds are NWT economy’s best friend

There is no getting around it, at least for the foreseeable future – the Northwest Territories is primarily a mining economy.

This is why it’s such a breath of relief to know Dominion Diamond expects Ekati Mine will continue to produce diamonds until 2042. Thanks to a new mining method, the company expects the mine’s Fox Deep pit to increase its lifespan by nine years.

This is great news for Tom Hoefer, executive director of the NWT & Nunavut Chamber of Mines, who explained Ekati’s impact on the NWT economy is “hugely” significant. While there are a number of other mining projects in the works around the territory, such as Fortune Minerals’ NICO project outside Whati and the Prairie Creek project in the Deh Cho region, Hoefer said it would take about six of those projects to equal Ekati.

As long as things keep going well for Dominion, it looks like the territorial economy has bought a little more time. Hopefully mining companies keep figuring out ways to get those diamonds out of the ground because they truly are our economy’s best friend.