Bob Rae confirms interest in Ring of Fire negotiations once Liberal leadership term is over – by Michael Purvis (Sault Star – March 10, 2013)

Bob Rae says he is thinking about taking part in Ring of Fire negotiations between First Nations and the province of Ontario after he steps down as Liberal leader, but he said it is too early to speculate about what role he might play.

“I think it’s premature to start commenting on either what I’m going to do or what form the negotiation is going to take,” Rae told reporters during a fundraising stop in Sault Ste. Marie on Sunday. “It’s going to take a few weeks, perhaps even a little longer, for the province and the tribal council itself to agree on what that process will be. I won’t be involved in those discussions at all and I think once the process is established, then I think it might be a little easier to see whether there’s a role that I could play.”

News reports last week said Northern Ontario chiefs presented Rae as their lead negotiator to Premier Kathleen Wynne.

Rae confirmed Sunday he has talked to the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commission “on a hypothetical basis” about taking part in negotiations over the massive mining deposit in the James Bay lowlands, as reports last week said, but he declined to offer his ethical take on getting involved. He said he doesn’t think the First Nations are a ‘special interest.’

Rae said he hopes to continue on as MP for Toronto Centre once the party elects a new leader on April 14.

“I think it’s possible to say there are many different public interests that need to be served in this regard and that’s certainly something I want to make sure happens, whether I do it directly or whether I do it as an MP we’ll just have to see,” said Rae.

The Ring of Fire deposit is rich in chromium ore, a key ingredient used to make stainless steel. Roughly 30 mining and exploration companies are involved in the project, which sits on traditional First Nation territory.

“It’s a subject I’m very interested in, I think there’s a lot of benefit to the whole of the north from having a positive experience with the development, but I’m not jumping ahead on anything,” said Rae.

Rae stopped in the Sault Sunday during the Northern Ontario portion of a cross-country farewell tour meant to fill party coffers with at least $1 million leading up to the leadership election.

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