1979 Drury Reports: Constitutional and Political Development in the North

In 1979 C. M. (Bud) Drury published the first of eight ‘working papers’ on constitutional and political development in the Northwest Territories. Drury – former Federal Government Minister and former Member of the Northwest Territories Council – was appointed in May 1978 as the Special Representative of the Prime Minister for Constitutional Development in the Northwest Territories.

Drury’s mandate was to look at ways to improve local, regional, territorial and federal government in the north. His work – through consulting individuals, organizations, and governments – was to look at more than a decade of progress towards implementing recommendations of the Carrothers Commission and why many northerners were still frustrated with their lack of political authority.

Drury established a base-of-operations in Yellowknife (see map)and over a two-year period held informal discussions with individuals, groups and organizations throughout the Northwest Territories in an attempt to reach consensus on a wide range of important issues. Drury’s report did not offer specific recommendations for change but rather presented a number of ‘conclusions’, including a key one on why political change is needed in the north:

Most northerners feel that they still are being administered from afar as a contemporary colony of Canada. The sense of frustration, which arises from this inability to control their own affairs, is felt as strongly in the 50 communities spread throughout 1.3 million square miles as it is in Yellowknife.

Overall, Drury’s conclusions addressed ways to make government more responsive to the needs and concerns of northerners through greater control over land and resources, settlement of land claims, Aboriginal cultural preservation and devolving of powers and responsibilities to the local level.