Tanya Talaga is the Queen’s Park (Ontario Provincial Government) reporter for the Toronto Star, which has the largest circulation in Canada. The paper has an enormous impact on Canada’s federal and provincial politics as well as shaping public opinion. This article was originally published March 26, 2010.
For an extensive list of articles on this mineral discovery, please go to: Ontario’s Ring of Fire Mineral Discovery
“We’ve lost 60 mills in Northern Ontario and some 45,000 well-paying
manufacturing and resource jobs from Dalton McGuinty’s tax hikes and
increasing red tape in energy policy.” Ontario Progressive Conservative
Leader Tim Hudak (March, 2010)
“For the 21st century, the discovery of chromite in the Ring of Fire could
be as big as the discovery of nickel was in Sudbury in the 19th century.”
Ontario Finance Minister Dwight Duncan (March, 2010)
The Liberal government is offering $150 million in electricity breaks for industry and $45 million for aboriginal job training to promote development in Northern Ontario’s ore-rich land. Opposition leaders say the incentives are “too little too late” for the region, where nearly 60 mills have closed and thousands of jobs have been lost.
Yet the province hopes developing a recently discovered massive deposit of chromite in the Ring of Fire area, 500 kilometres northeast of Thunder Bay, will help drive down the $21.3 billion deficit.
“For the 21st century, the discovery of chromite in the Ring of Fire could be as big as the discovery of nickel was in Sudbury in the 19th century,” Finance Minister Dwight Duncan said in his budget speech.
The ring’s development will be managed by a new coordinators office, which will bring together competing interests, from First Nations to mining companies, the government and environmentalists.
“This is the only chromite find in North America and it is potentially the largest in the world,” Duncan said. Chromite is a key ingredient in stainless steel.
The Liberals promise they can marry development with an earlier promise to safeguard a large part of the northern boreal forest.
Impoverished First Nations, who live on the ore-rich area, want guarantees of training and jobs in exchange for access to their traditional lands. The budget allows $45 million for a three-year skills training program for First Nations people.
The recession has hit Northern Ontario hard – a combined effect from the forestry industry collapse, the international market dive and the strength of the Canadian dollar.
Premier Dalton McGuinty has said the province has a special responsibility to help lift the northern economy. There are also political reasons for encouraging northern resource development. In the fall 2011 provincial election, the Liberals could be in danger of losing six northern seats from Thunder Bay to Timiskaming.
To boost industrial development in an area hit hard by large-scale layoffs in Sudbury and Timmins, the budget creates a three-year $150 million northern industrial electricity rate program.
For the rest of this article, please go to the Toronto Star website: http://www.thestar.com/news/ontario/ontariobudget/article/785351–liberals-eye-ontario-s-northern-resource-riches