What the heck’s happening with the Ring of Fire? – by Staff (Northern Ontario Business – May 28, 2015)


Iacobucci tight-lipped on progress on North’s massive mineral deposit

The Ring of Fire may appear to be a garden of agony for the mining companies involved, but Ontario’s lead negotiator charged with working out a crucial and historic agreement with affected First Nations assures all that real progress is being made to advance development in the Far North.

Former Supreme Court justice Frank Iacobucci talked at length before a Greater Sudbury Chamber of Commerce lunch crowd on May 26 about Canada’s evolving relationship with Aboriginal people in righting the wrongdoings of the past with a new partnership based on mutual respect.

But he didn’t reveal much about what progress has been made since a much ballyhooed regional framework agreement was signed by Premier Kathleen Wynne and the Matawa chiefs in 2014, except to confirm that a second round of negotiations is coming up.

“A lot of work has been going on. We don’t work in the public arena. We work behind the scenes.”

In July 2013, Iacobucci was appointed Ontario’s lead negotiator in discussions with the chiefs of the Matawa First Nations, a tribal council of communities closest to the mineral deposits in the James Bay lowlands. Matawa’s negotiator is former Ontario premier Bob Rae. He reports to Northern Development and Mines Minister Michael Gravelle.

They’re both tasked to dive into the details on environmental safeguards stemming from resource extraction, related industry and community infrastructure planning, social and economic investments, and most importantly, resource revenue sharing from mining activity.

‘Work has been going on’

In an interview after his speech, Iacobucci wouldn’t divulge when that next round of negotiations will start, what’s on the agenda, or even if the government funding is in place to stage that series of meetings.

“Look, I am not able to go into details. I negotiate with Bob Rae and the chiefs and I work for the government of Ontario. All I can say is a lot of work has been going on, is going on, and funding issues are front and centre.”

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