NORTH BAY, Ont. — Yan Roberts was among the dozens of people who filed into a mining products factory Wednesday to hear Stephen Harper announced expanded and enhanced mineral exploration tax credits.
Like all of them, he’d signed up in advance, stood in line to get his name crossed off a list, received a yellow wrist band and was ushered onto the factory floor, where the fans had been turned off so people could hear Harper’s latest pitch to voters in Nipissing-Timiskaming.
Roberts watched as the prime minister said a re-elected Conservative government would extended the existing 15 per cent mineral exploration tax credit, which was introduced in 2006.
He also had something for remote projects, like Ontario’s Ring of Fire or Plan Nord in Quebec; a 25 per cent mineral exploration tax credit for any project in the territories or that is more than 50 kilometres from an all-weather road or service centre.
Taken together, the two tax credits would cost $60 million a year beginning in 2016-17
The announcement is one his party hopes will resonate here — in 2011, the Conservatives only won the riding by 18 votes, snatching it from the Liberals, who are running the same candidate in this campaign.
Economic growth in the mining and manufacturing industry is a major local issue; dozens of businesses support the mining sector and nearly 3,000 people in a town of about 64,000 make a living directly working for those companies.
But Statistics Canada reported this week that in the first six months of the year the mining sector contracted and in June, support activities for mining and oil and gas extraction were down 2.7 per cent, after some increases earlier in the year.
Suppliers in North Bay don’t just ship products to the oilpatch, they also provide parts and equipment for exploration in the surrounding region, which can be a challenge in remote locations.
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