NDP Leader Andrea Horwath unveils Northern Ontario platform
Standing in front of the idled Xstrata Copper smelter in Hoyle, Ontario New Democrat Leader Andrea Horwath unveiled planks in her party’s Northern platform, which she claims would have prevented the mining facility from closing.
Flanked by NDP candidates from four Northeastern Ontario ridings, including MPP Gilles Bisson (NDP — Timmins-James Bay), Horwath said if elected, her government would ensure forestry and mining resources are processed where they came from.
The NDP say they would amend the Mining Act so that resources mined in Ontario must be processed in Ontario. “It makes no sense to pull raw resources from the earth and process them somewhere else,” Horwath said.
Currently Section 91 of the Mining Act requires mining companies extracting ore in Ontario to get permission from the government before being allowed to ship the ore outside of Canada for processing.
The NDP proposes to amend this section so that companies wishing to ship our outside of Ontario would require the same ministerial permission.
The legislation will be modelled on a private members bill that had been put forward last year after Xstrata Copper announced it would begin shipping its raw material to Quebec for processing and close its Hoyle smelter. The company’s decision resulted in the loss of 670 jobs in Timmins.
Bisson’s private members bill was ultimately rejected by the government.
The Ontario Liberal government’s Northern Development, Mines and Forestry Minister Michael Gravelle told The Daily Press at the time that Bisson’s proposal was problematic because there is an exchange of raw materials that flows between provinces, which the proposed bill would have halted.
When pressed about this point Monday, Horwath said, “We know there are reciprocal agreements that are in place. We know there is a process to talk about how we work with other jurisdictions. But let’s face it, there are a lot of resources that are leaving this province that don’t need to leave this province and that’s why we’re in front of this very plant.”
Horwath suggested the Liberal’s response to the NDP-proposed solution was a cop out.
“I don’t think it’s fair to Northerners to simply say, ‘Well, we can’t. We can’t do it.’ They’ve had a government that has said ‘We can’t do it’ for far too long. We need a government that says ‘We can do it,’ that we’re prepared to roll up our sleeves and make the changes that need to happen to feed Northern families and keep our communities in the North strong again.”
Horwath also announced the party would also introduce changes to forestry tenure rules, removing the government’s authority to arbitrarily cancel wood allocation licences.
It would also give communities more control over wood allocations.
“If a company decides to shut down operations permanently, then they shouldn’t maintain that wood allocation,” said Horwath. “It should go back to the Crown and go back into a process” where community-led proposals would be “more heavily weighted” as favourable.
Horwath said this policy would encourage new investment and ensure Crown forests benefit the communities they are located around.
For the rest of this article, please go to the Timmins Daily Press website: http://www.thedailypress.ca/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=3249414