OTTAWA – Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne’s criticism of the feds’ contribution to developing northern Ontario’s mineral-rich Ring of Fire shows she’s become a “desperate” campaigner, Treasury Board President Tony Clement says.
She recently called for more cash for the project.
On Tuesday, Clement called Wynne’s letter “political positioning in the middle of an election.” “We’ve seen desperation in the campaign of Kathleen Wynne in the last few days and this is just another example of that,” he said.
The funding issue has caused tensions over the development of this vast territory, about 535 km north of Thunder Bay, Ont.
The minerals are worth billions, but before any mining can begin, plenty of infrastructure needs to be built. No roads connect the Ring of Fire to the rest of the province. Wynne says $2 billion is needed to build enough infrastructure to begin any work.
In her own recently announced budget, Wynne allocated $1 billion for Ring of Fire infrastructure in the hopes of inspiring other levels of government and the private sector to ante up.
Last year, U.S.-based Cliffs Natural Resources Inc. shut its Ontario offices and pulled out of the project citing uncertainty regarding the construction of a road.
“The federal government has invested in training for aboriginal people in the area, in infrastructure for some of the local communities,” Clement said. “So I think we’ve been good-faith partners in the development of the Ring of Fire.”
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