McGuinty Headed for a Northern [Ontario] Showdown – by Christina Blizzard (Toronto Sun-September 16, 2010)

Christina Blizzard is the Queen’s Park columnist for the Toronto Sun, the city’s daily tabloid newspaper.

For an extensive list of articles on this mineral discovery, please go to: Ontario’s Ring of Fire Mineral Discovery

The Liberals’ Far North Act will kill the ‘economic equivalent of another Sudbury’

When mayors, chambers of commerce and aboriginal groups from across the north all converge on Queen’s Park, you know there’s trouble brewing.

That happened Wednesday, as anger over the government’s Far North Act boiled over from the wide landscapes of the north, its boreal forests and mines to the manicured southern lawns of Queen’s Park.

New Democrat Gilles Bisson stormed out of a committee hearing on Bill 191, calling the process a “sham.” He’d asked that the bill not be called for third reading and the government go back to the drawing board.

Nishnawbe Aski Nation Grand Chief Stan Beardy, usually a moderate, angrily declared aboriginal people will take “direct action” to protect their rights.

“We will do whatever is necessary to protect our interests, and if that calls for direct action, that’s what’s going to take place,” Beardy said.First nations want to be part of economic development in the north.

The Far North Act will put half the land north of the 51st parallel – 225,000 sq. km, or an area about the size of Britain — out of bounds for development.

Northerners are irate that it will hinder economic development at a time new shoots are promising a recovery.

The new legislation could destroy development in the ore-rich Ring of Fire, a massive area of mineral deposits north of Thunder Bay. There are high hopes in the beleaguered north that this could be their economic saviour.

Harold Wilson, president of Thunder Bay’s Chamber of Commerce, made the trip to the Legislature. He says part of the problem with the legislation is it’s been given to the Ministry of Natural Resources.

“The MNR has never in my time shown evidence of being able to foster economic development,” he said. “They’ve been able to regulate and stymie it, but never to develop it.”

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