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The annual convention of the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada kicks off Monday with Harper making surprise appearance. Prime Minister Stephen Harper paid a surprise visit to a major gathering of miners in Toronto Monday, pledging his ongoing support to the struggling mining industry.
Harper is the first sitting prime minister to attend the 82-year-old conference, a major networking event hosting nearly 30,000 people in the global mining industry through Wednesday at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.
About 60 journalists from around the world were invited to the question-and-answer format session between Harper and incoming PDAC president Rod Thomas before 400 convention delegates.
Neither the audience nor media – whose bags and equipment were checked thoroughly before entry to the conference hall by a sniffer dog — were allowed to ask questions.
The prime minister’s office announced Sunday afternoon that Harper would attend the event, which caught conference organizers off guard since the program schedule is usually planned months in advance.
Thomas asked Harper about funding for infrastructure for projects in remote regions such as the highly-touted Ring of Fire mineral belt in Northern Ontario, which has been mired in government red tape to build a 300-kilometre road to access the vast metals resource.
Harper pointed to the federal government’s recently announced $14 billion infrastructure fund, saying: “we will prioritize those dollars principally in collaboration with the provinces.
“So they will have a lot to deal with deciding how much of those dollars they want to put into areas like Ontario’s Ring of Fire, areas where there is obviously need for major infrastructure,” he said.
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