QUEEN’S PARK – In advance of a trip to the Northwestern Ontario Municipal Association’s Annual General Meeting with Tim Hudak, Northern Development and Mines Critic Norm Miller demanded that the Minister explain his government’s lack of progress in the region during Question Period on Tuesday.

“We have at our fingertips one of the most lucrative resource finds in our province’s history,” Miller explained. “The government is eager to talk about the Ring of Fire and boast about the Ring of Fire, but won’t take any action beyond expanding an already bloated and uncoordinated bureaucracy.”

In his question to the Minister, Miller also asked about the lack of progress on the proposed road to the mining sites.

“This is such a basic requirement,” Miller argued. “If we can’t access it, we can’t mine it. Communities, miners, and First Nations groups are waiting. They’re getting impatient, and rightfully so. The government has been spinning its wheels for far too long.”

Minister Bartolucci’s response skirted the issue, celebrating a figurative and hypothetical “road to jobs” at some unknown point in the distant future, but not addressing the very real, and very current, lack of infrastructure development.

“The Minister can pat himself on the back all he likes, but the simple truth is that the Ring of Fire is an opportunity that we cannot afford to waste. The lack of progress is inexcusable.”

The Hansard transcript follows.

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For more information, contact:
Norm Miller, MPP

Ontario Hansard – April 24, 2012


Mr. Norm Miller: My question is for the Minister of Northern Development and Mines. Minister, your government likes to play the Ring of Fire card every chance you get. You played it in the throne speech a couple of years back. You played it in the last couple of budgets. You throw it out there every time someone challenges your tepid Grow North plan while you simultaneously gut key northern infrastructure.

Frankly, there is no substance to your plan and nothing to your Ring of Fire posturing. Years later, all you have to show for it is more high-priced help to coordinate a growing staff who are doing precious little to make the Ring of Fire a reality. Minister, when are you finally going to live up to all the bluster and get on with creating some prosperity and jobs, like Drummond recommended?

Hon. Rick Bartolucci: I’ve got to be perfectly honest, Speaker. When it comes to the Ring of Fire, we won’t do what this party did; we won’t be absent without leadership. Tim Hudak is away without leadership. The last thing Ontarians want is an unnecessary election, and as we work towards realizing the potential of the Ring of Fire, we will work with anybody who is interested to ensure we maximize the potential that is the Ring of Fire.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Mr. Norm Miller: Minister, how long do you think you can keep stringing people along? It’s beginning to look like no one in the McGuinty government knows what’s going on—not MOI, MNR, NDM, MAA, EDT. Who exactly is coordinating this train wreck?
Last week, Perrin Beatty praised the federal government for tackling regulatory inefficiencies, and he specifically named the Ring of Fire. Meanwhile, your government can’t make a decision on whether there will be a road, which direction it will go, or who will own it. First Nations want to know, mining companies want to know, miners want to know, what is happening with this most basic key piece of infrastructure, the road to the Ring of Fire.

Hon. Rick Bartolucci: The reality is, the road to the Ring of Fire is going to be filled with job opportunities for those in northern Ontario. It’s going to be filled with job opportunities for those in the supply and services sector of the mining industry. It’s going to be filled with jobs for those who are in the exploration and development business. It’s going to be filled with jobs for those who are mining companies.

The reality is, those consultations, those discussions, are ongoing. We are moving very, very positively and favourably, because we understand, as a government, that in order to ensure that we maximize the potential of the Ring of Fire, we have to do it in a very, very businesslike way and in a way that ensures that potential is realized for everyone in northern Ontario, including— The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Thank you. New question.