Thunder Bay Chronicle-Journal is the daily newspaper of Northwestern Ontario.
CONFIRMATION that Bob Rae will negotiate for First Nations in the Ring of Fire mining belt should please all parties involved. Ensuring First Nations have an influential place at the table is essential to their full and fair inclusion in the biggest potential economic development in recent Ontario history. But it is not just the Matawa First Nations who should welcome the longtime MP and former Liberal leader to the table.
Governments have been flailing away on this file for years, trying to come to some sort of agreement on how to negotiate the ways in which First Nations are to be involved in development. Not what to negotiate, mind you, but how.
Government comes at this with a formal model that differs greatly from how aboriginal people talk to other people. Matawa has known and trusted Rae since he visited individual First Nations as Ontario NDP leader. He has held various responsibilities for First Nations activities at Queen’s Park and in Ottawa and he is clearly one of the few senior Canadian political figures who enjoy the confidence of First Nations.
Industry, too, should welcome Rae to the mining development talks since they have been caught between First Nations and government on most occasions when exploration is undertaken.
“ . . . 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,” Rae said back in March when he was first identified as Matawa’s choice.
Rae will ensure First Nations’ interests are front and centre, since that is what he has agreed to do. But he will be doing his best to serve the interests of all parties so that this development can proceed for the good of all Ontarians.