Industry Minister Sets Record Straight About Laurentian/U of T Funding Controversy – by Marilyn Scales

Marilyn Scales is a field editor for the Canadian Mining Journal, Canada’s first mining publication. She is one of Canada’s most senior mining commentators.

The following note was posted on the Canadian Mining Journal’s digital edition. It is federal Industry Minister Tony Clement’s reponse/spin to the heated controversy of funding mining research at the University of Toronto’s Lassande Institute (which also includes significant civil engineering programs) instead of focusing scarce resources at the previously established Centre of Excellence in Mining Innovation (CEMI) at Laurentian.

Laurentian is located in the heart of Sudbury, Ontario, the richest mining district in North America and among the top ten most strategic mineral deposits in the world. There are no mines in downtown Toronto and most industry experts confirm that U of T’s mining programs are undersubscribed. In addition, having two major mining research centres in this province further dilutes the limited amount of mining research in Ontario. Tony Clement continues to refuse to give any funding to CEMI’s industry respected research programs while the provincial government and the mining sector has contributed approximately $20 million to the Laurentian institute.

During my research into a previous column – about turning Laurentian in the Harvard of the Mining Sector – many individuals who wanted to remain off the record, agreed that the most economic solution for postsecondary mining education and research in Ontario is to consolidate all programs at Sudbury’s Laurentian University. – Stan Sudol

Canadian Mining Journal

On June 7, I wrote about the new Lassonde mining innovation centre to be established at the University of Toronto, and how that announcement has residents of Sudbury, where the Centre for Excellence in Mining Innovation (CEMI) is located, angry at the snub. On behalf of the Hon. Tony Clement, Canada’s minister of industry, CMJ received the following letter.

“I feel it necessary to set the record straight. I think that everyone needs to be privy to some of the facts surrounding the spin to bring a bit more balance to the CEMI/Knowledge Infrastructure Program [KIP] story. Here are the facts.

“The government of Canada through KIP can only fund new projects that: a) submit a funding proposal; b) have a proposal that qualifies for funding within the program criteria (ex: the funds are used for building and renovation, not operations, and that the project will be completed by March 31, 2011); and c) have matching funds from either the province or the university or college. The KIP program can only match funds for renovation projects up to 50%.

“Laurentian University did not apply for funding for CEMI under the Knowledge Infrastructure Program.

“Laurentian University applied for their Living with Lakes project and our government was proud to award over $5.1 million towards it. Unfortunately, due to the ridiculous ‘perceived snub’ story spun by the local MPP and the Sudbury Chamber of Commerce this very positive story received almost no media coverage.

“For the majority of projects awarded KIP funds, the government of Ontario provided 50% of funding, thus … the majority of funding decisions for this program were joint.

“The University of Toronto’s Innovation Centre for Canadian Mining Industry, founded in 1878, has provided mining education to thousands of Ontarians for over a hundred years. Many Canadians, who make a living in the mining sector, including those around Sudbury, received their formal education at this institution. Their project was selected because it applied for funding and it met the criteria.

“The Knowledge Infrastructure Program has proved a valuable stimulus tool, creating jobs for Canadians over the next two years, while building our province’s post secondary capacity to teach and train for future generations of Canadians. The petty spin that has taken over this story shows the uglier side of politics, and it is regrettable that not every publication represents the full story.”