Can a Liberal become Ring master? – by Brian MacLeod (Sudbury Star – November 22, 2012)

The Sudbury Star is the City of Greater Sudbury’s daily newspaper.

Ontario Liberal leadership candidates are trying to woo northern Ontario, but one wonders whether they’re not playing with the Ring of Fire.

That would be the 5,120-square-kilometre swath of the James Bay Lowlands that is said to contain riches in chromite and other metals that could rival the value of the Sudbury Basin, some $1 trillion worth. (Chromite is a key ingredient in stainless steel.)

Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak has likened the Ring of Fire to Alberta’s oil-sands. Economist Don Drummond noted in his report that the area “offers the prospect of substantial socio-economic opportunities for all northern residents.”

More than a dozen mines have already been identified for possible development within the next five years and a smelter is set to be built north of Sudbury. Thousands of jobs are expected to be created, with millions of dollars in tax revenues rolling into the province.

In the last two weeks, Liberal leadership candidates Glen Murray and Kathleen Wynne, as well as Premier Dalton McGuinty and NDP Leader Andrea Horwath, have visited the area of the province that covers about

800,000 square km with a population of about 730,000 people. The North has always felt under-appreciated by governments of all stripes. But Murray has thrown open the door to northern aspirations by proposing a northern regional government that would “devolve” power over such things as resource revenues and control over energy, transportation and gas prices.

Murray would “put the pause button” on the province’s decision to sell the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission and he is even willing to consider the idea of a port authority proposed by the unions representing ONTC workers that would oversee transportation and communication infrastructure.

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