Tony Clement’s Ring of Bad Policy – by Peter Foster (National Post – March 1, 2013)

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Ontario’s ­development restrictions are the real problem

Last week, Tony Clement announced that he would become the Federal government’s point man on the “Ring of Fire,” the area of the James Bay lowlands in Northern Ontario estimated to contain between $30 billion and $50 billion worth of mineral potential.

No dancing in the streets was recorded in any Northern Community.

Mr. Clement, President of the Treasury Board, was claimed to be a good choice because he already heads FedNor, the Northern Ontario regional development agency. You remember FedNor … No, actually, you probably don’t. Like all regional development agencies, it is worse than useless, unless you believe that bailing out obscure cheese factories — or indeed any business — is a good use of taxpayers’ money.

Perhaps Mr. Clement’s most significant association in the public mind is as the minister who used funds attached to the appallingly expensive 2010 G8/G20 meetings to install gazebos in his riding of Muskoka/Parry Sound. Muskoka may look like the North from the intersection of Yonge and Bloor, but from Cochrane or Thunder Bay it’s just a Toronto suburb.

Certainly, it would not be unhelpful for development in Northern Ontario to have a one-stop shop at the Federal level, rather than having to deal with some fifteen separate federal ministries. But the real problem isn’t at the federal level, it’s with the government of Ontario. Dalton McGuinty may have fled the Mississauga and Oakville natural gas plant scandals, which, one hopes, may one day catch up with him, but his appalling record of damaging Northern Ontario by kowtowing to radical environmentalists in such perverse legislation as the Endangered Species Act and the Far North Act inevitably lives on.

Dave Canfield, the delightfully deadpan, down-to-Earth mayor of Kenora, likes to joke that one of the great things about his city is that it’s 1,900 kilometres from Toronto (or more precisely Queen’s Park). The bad news, he says, is that it’s still 30 miles from the border of Manitoba, where there’s a real bureaucratic one-stop shop, and costs for development essentials such as energy and wood are much lower.

That radical environmentalists used the Liberals as puppets isn’t a conspiracy theory. One of the most astonishing documents ever to be released by, or on behalf of, radical NGOs, was The Making of Ontario’s New Endangered Species Act: a Campaign Summary Report. That report, lavishly produced in 2008 by the Ivey Foundation, positively rejoiced in the success of the David Suzuki Foundation and its cohorts in excluding both the forest industry and affected Northern communities from “expert” discussion on the act, and thus being free from any annoying need to “compromise.”

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