PMO taking a look at Ring of Fire plan to rival Ontario’s: Cree chief – by James Munson ( – January 24, 2015)

The Prime Minister’s Office has expressed interest in a First Nations-led plan to build a new seaport and railroad across northern Ontario to the Ring of Fire mineral deposit, an election-year effort that would rival Premier Kathleen Wynne’s own designs for the region.

The Mushkegowuk Council and TGR Rail Company are preparing a joint purchase of the Ontario Northland rail line between North Bay and Moosonee, pending the First Nation group’s approval from its council of chiefs this week, said Mushkegowuk Council grand chief Lawrence Martin Friday.

The plan would open the door to a east-to-west rail, transmission line and telecommunications corridor to the Ring of Fire, a 5,120 square kilometre crescent of ore that could bring a $9.4 billion increase to Ontario’s GDP over the next decade if developed.

After more than a year of what Wynne has characterized as foot dragging from Ottawa on a federal-provincial plan, the PMO and Natural Resources Minister Greg Rickford’s office called TRG Rail in the past three weeks expressing interest in the new plan, Martin told iPolitics.

“We’ve even had a call from the PMO office asking for information for our project,” said Martin, adding it was TGR Rail, a Toronto-based rail company, that took the call. “It’s gaining momentum, so it looks like it’s going ahead.” TGR Rail would not comment on the corridor plan, saying only that the firm would issue a news release Monday.

The PMO also did not respond to a request to clarify their interest in the Mushkegowuk plan, while Rickford’s office was still looking into the issue at deadline.

At an Ottawa meeting in December, 2013, Wynne and Harper apparently made progress on their differences over Ring of Fire development. Progress then stalled, which Wynne used as an election issue during her re-election campaign last spring.

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