‘Major step forward for the Ring of Fire’ – by Greg Rickford (Thunder Bay Chronicle-Journal – March 9, 2015)

Thunder Bay Chronicle-Journal is the daily newspaper of Northwestern Ontario.

Greg Rickford, MP for Kenora, is Minister of Natural Resources and Minister for the Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario.

This past week I was pleased to announce important support for Northern Ontario at the world’s largest mineral exploration conference and trade show. I feel strongly that the measures introduced by our government enhance Northern Ontario’s mining and resource development potential, creating and protecting Canadian jobs and opportunities.

Supporting the province’s efforts to develop the Ring of Fire is a priority for our government, and we are delivering. My provincial colleague, Michael Gravelle, and I met this January and agreed to further co-operation with a particular focus on specific, tangible infrastructure projects to support extractive activities and access to remote communities.

I agreed that should we become aware of appropriate initiatives, we would let one another know. FedNor became aware of a suitable proposal, and I engaged my counterpart.

One month later, we were joined in Toronto by First Nations and municipal leaders for the announcement of a plan to enhance economic prosperity and community access to the Ring of Fire region.

We have always said that any plan to develop our resources must include First Nations, and I am greatly impressed by the Webequie First Nation’s partnership with the Eabametoong, Neskantaga and Nibinamik, on their proposal for a transportation corridor. This represents a major step forward for the Ring of Fire, and it was encouraging to feel a palpable sense of enthusiasm.

Our objective is to position communities to derive economic benefit from development.

The project activities include research of the benefits of a corridor from several perspectives including logistical, technical, environmental, economic and community-based goals.

First Nations recipients of our joint investment will evaluate road options, preliminary costings and identify consensus on a preferred possibility.

Predictably, members of the federal NDP were publicly critical of our joint investment.

This is disappointing, but not surprising. If the NDP does not support the first step towards advancing development in the Ring of Fire, they certainly cannot claim they would support any others. Some of those aspects to our plan we also announced last week.

For example, we announced a proposal to extend the 15-per-cent mineral exploration tax credit for another year. During a challenging global economy, this incentive helps keep investment in the mining industry flowing. Since 2006, it has assisted junior mining companies in raising over $5.5 billion.

Our government also announced it will be expanding the definition of Canadian exploration expenses for tax purposes to include the costs associated with environmental studies and community consultations that are required to obtain a permit for grassroots exploration. This means companies can deduct these costs immediately, making it easier for them to raise capital, create jobs and contribute to the economy.

Exciting announcements like these demonstrate that Northern Ontario is a priority for our government, and more work remains to be done.

Our low-tax approach supports Canada’s competitiveness and supports job creation.
We are helping position Northern Ontario’s mining industry with tangible measures that allow business to contribute to the Canadian economy.

For the original source of this column, click here: http://www.chroniclejournal.com/content/news/local/2015/03/09/major-step-forward-ring-fire