One sees the forest, other the trees [FedNor] – by Sebastien Perth (Sudbury Star – April 8, 2013)

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

During a recent tour of Northern Ontario, NDP leader Thomas Mulcair said Tony Clement, the minister for FedNor, was playing word games when he said the latest federal budget won’t make any funding cuts to FedNor.

“Unfortunately the Conservatives’ cuts, the planned cuts of tens of millions of dollars from the budget of FedNor, will have a devastating effect in the whole region, particularly in centres of excellence. (The cuts will be) 20% this year, 25% next year. Those are the actual cuts to FedNor.

“If Tony Clement says anything otherwise, he’s not telling the truth. This is not a matter of ‘he said, she said,’ these are facts, they are printed on a piece of paper.

“Tony Clement should start telling the truth to people in Northern Ontario. If he’s got the guts to cut, let him have the guts to admit what he’s doing and stop playing word games,” Mulcair said during a stop at NORCAT while he was in Sudbury last Thursday.

He added the cuts to FedNor would have a devastating impact on the economy in the north of the province.

“FedNor has been one of those great solutions to provide a more balanced economy in an area that has a great richness in primary natural resources and their developments. That’s a great thing for the region and Canada. It’s also something that has to be completed in other parts of the economy. That’s where NORCAT comes in — not only training, but developing new businesses and very exceptional areas of technology. That’s the type of thing NORCAT is developing, which stands to be lost if the cuts the Conservatives are planning actually go through.”

A couple days later, Minister Clement put out a statement saying Mulcair didn’t understand what he was talking about.

“For all Mulcair’s bluster about FedNor funding, he doesn’t get what makes the economy tick or how jobs are created. In his whirlwind 72-hour tour of Northern Ontario, Mulcair decried magical funding numbers for FedNor he seemed to make up on the fly,” Clement said in his statement, calling the numbers Mulcair cited “pure fiction.”

“I am proud to be FedNor’s longest serving minister. Since 2006, FedNor has supported more than 1,500 projects throughout the North, representing $358-million in investment.

“And FedNor will continue to do that — its core funding remains virtually unchanged. If Mulcair understood financial documents — or cared to actually look at them — he would see a 0.43% decline in funding, not the 10%, 20%, 26% or any other number he is pulling out of his hat.”

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