THUNDER BAY – In Queen’s Park today, during Question Period, the NDP Northern Development and Mines Critic Michael Mantha called on the Wynne government to address the lack of progress on development of the Ring of Fire.
“Last year, the Premier went up to Sudbury to announce that the government had reached a deal with Cliffs, and that it would create hundreds of mining jobs from the Ring of Fire,” said Mantha. “Only a year later and it has become clear that not only did this government not have a real deal with Cliffs, but the company is about to pull out of Ontario because of the mess this government has made of the Ring of Fire development plans.”
Mantha said the people of Ontario have been misled by the promise of jobs that have failed to materialize.
PC MPP Norm Miller was also on the attack. Just yesterday Premier, more bad news. One of the major players in the Ring of Fire, Cliffs Natural Resources, described [their] project as being in a tenuous state…if the company doesn’t have a transportation route, they don’t have a project., These are jobs waiting to be unlocked, put in jeopardy by your bungling of this file. What are you doing to ensure access to the Ring of Fire?”
Some of the issues currently facing the Ring of Fire include a decision by Ontario that won’t allow Cliffs Natural Resources access to their chromite site. There remain some areas of confusion over what level of consultation with the First Nations as well.
“The Ring of Fire is once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the people of Ontario, but it requires transportation, electricity prices, environmental guidelines and consultation leadership by this government,” explained Mantha.
“Realizing the full potential of the Ring of Fire is a complex undertaking. We have to make sure we get it right. Our government has a plan to drive jobs and growth in Ontario. Investing in infrastructure is a key pillar of that plan and vital to developing the Ring of Fire – people need to get in to the region to work and products need to get out to the global market,” stated Michael Gravelle, the Minister of Northern Development and Mines.
According to Mantha, the Liberal government’s mishandling of the Ring of Fire is sending a bad message to other companies, who may be scared away from investment in Ontario. “When will this government develop a real plan for the Ring of Fire and implement it?” asked Mantha. “When will we see a real plan for Ring of Fire development that benefits Northern communities, First Nations and all Ontarians?”
“This is also about investing in communities. There is real opportunity to connect remote First Nation communities, and also communities like Greenstone, which will become major transportation hubs with this development. Our government is currently working on a number of options that assess the greatest benefit for Ontarians and determine what the most beneficial and appropriate role is for the province to play. We remain committed to laying the necessary groundwork to ensure all communities can take advantage of the multi-generational benefits of developing the Ring of Fire region.” Gravelle, continued.
Queen’s Park Transcript
Mr. Michael Mantha: My question is to the Premier. Last year, the Premier went up to Sudbury to announce that the government had reached a deal with Cliffs, and that it would create hundreds of mining jobs from the Ring of Fire. Only a year later, it has finally become clear that not only did this government not have a real deal with Cliffs, but the company is about to pull out of Ontario because of the mess this government has made of the Ring of Fire development plans.
Why is the government misleading the people of Ontario with this promise of fictitious—
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): The member will withdraw.
Mr. Michael Mantha: I’ll withdraw.
When will this government, in fact, develop a plan for the Ring of Fire and implement it?
Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: Minister of Natural Resources.
Hon. David Orazietti: I’m pleased to respond to the member’s question. Certainly, I would think that the member is not suggesting that the government intervene in what has become a legal dispute with respect to one of the companies. I know the member is not implying that. What we are doing, though, is, we are prepared to work with any company who is coming forward to help develop the Ring of Fire and to create jobs in this area.
I have full confidence in Justice Iacobucci, who is seized with the negotiations on this, as well as Bob Rae, who is representing the First Nations in the area. I know that the Premier and the Minister of Northern Development and Mines have met with the Matawa Tribal Council and the First Nations, because they are an integral part of ensuring that this development proceeds and moves forward.
We understand that this is a sizable, very significant development in the province of Ontario, and it will take some time to get this right. Our government is committed to moving this project forward.
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary: The member from Algoma–Manitoulin, with my apology.
Mr. Michael Mantha: My question, again, is to the Premier. The Ring of Fire is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the people of Ontario, but it requires transportation, electricity prices, environmental guidelines and consultation—leadership by this government. The Liberal government’s lack of action sends a bad message to companies who are willing to invest in Ontario.
The question is simple: When will we see a real plan for the Ring of Fire development that benefits northern communities, First Nations and Ontario?
Hon. David Orazietti: The member is oversimplifying what is a hugely complex issue in the development of northern Ontario and the Ring of Fire that has the potential to benefit us for decades and decades to come, and benefit First Nations communities. We need to get this right. I have every confidence in Justice Iacobucci and Bob Rae, who are leading the negotiations with the First Nations and are very involved in all of the specific details of this proposal. The Minister of Northern Development and Mines is committed to working with all parties, the communities. We think there’s tremendous potential for the community of Greenstone to play a very significant role in this development to bring new jobs and new opportunities to Ontario.
While the member might dismiss what he believes is very simple, this is a complex issue that our government is committed to moving forward, and we believe we’ve got the right people at the—
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Thank you.