If it is mined in Ontario, process it here, Horwath says – by Tanya Talaga (Toronto Star – August 9, 2011)

Tanya Talaga is a Queen’s Park reporter with 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.

In a campaign swing through northern Ontario, NDP Leader Andrea Horwath vowed to stop resources mined in the province from being exported if they can be processed here. “Companies are pulling them out of the ground and shipping them elsewhere for processing and it doesn’t have to be that way,” Horwath said Monday from Dubreuilville, Ont.

“We need to be conscious about what is happening with our natural resources. It helps us put some control over how much of our resources get processed and it creates good jobs for Ontario families.”

Horwath said the time to secure mining and resource jobs is now as Ontario begins to develop the Ring of Fire, a $30 billion chromite deposit nearly 500 kilometres northeast of Thunder Bay. In December 2010, Swiss mining giant Xstrata announced it was shutting down its Timmins Kidd Met Site smelter and transferring the operation to Quebec. The move eliminated 700 jobs, she added.

But critics argue Horwath’s policy is protectionist, may violate North American trade laws and could actually scare business away.

Walid Hejazi, a professor of international competitiveness at the University of Toronto Rotman School of Management, said the NDP should not be telling businesses how to operate.

“If I owned a mine and I am exporting, I don’t think the government has the right to tell me I’m not allowed to export or else,” he said. “It is wrong, it is bad policy and it would hurt foreign investment.”

While he agreed Ontario exports too much of the “raw stuff,” he said the right policy is to create an environment where businesses want to operate in Ontario.

Ontario Minister of Northern Development Michael Gravelle called the NDP mining strategy “dangerous.”

“What the NDP appears to be willfully ignoring is that in Ontario we process minerals from other jurisdictions — from Quebec, British Columbia, Newfoundland and Labrador,” he said. Even the United States, Peru and Chile send ore to Ontario to be smelted.

“If they are prepared to say they are going to close the doors by absolutely demanding processing take place in Ontario they are very much risking hundreds of jobs that are there now,” Gravelle said from his Thunder Bay riding.

“You also risk future investment in the province.”

Victor Fedeli, the Progressive Conservative candidate in Nippissing, said the NDP is missing the point as to why the jobs are gone in the first place.

Bans on development in the north, rising hydro rates and bureaucratic red tape are the real reasons why jobs have disappeared, said Fedeli, the former mayor of North Bay.

For the rest of this article, please go to the Toronto Star website: http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/politics/article/1036316–if-it-is-mined-in-ontario-process-it-here-horwath-says