Canada’s resource sector has taken major hit from plummeting commodities prices
A re-elected Conservative government would continue to provide tax credits aimed at encouraging mineral exploration, particularly in northern communities, party leader Stephen Harper announced today.
Speaking to a group of supporters in North Bay, Ont., Harper said the 15 per cent Mineral Exploration Tax Credit — created in 2006 — would be extended for at least another three years if he returns as prime minister.
He added that an enhanced credit would be offered to proposed projects facing steep overhead costs due to remote locations and distance from transportation routes. Projects like the Ring of Fire in northern Ontario or Plan Nord in Quebec would qualify for the 25 per cent tax credit.
The total cost of the extended credit and the enhanced one would be $60 million a year beginning in 2016-17.
“Having riches below the ground does not in and of itself guarantee prosperity above,” Harper said, stressing the need to move ahead with resource development projects that face considerable logistical challenges.
Once Harper had finished speaking, a locally-known environmental activist, Jan Roberts, stood up from his seat near the podium and took off his flannel shirt, revealing an undershirt emblazoned with the words “Water not Harper.”
He was escorted from Harper’s immediate vicinity by RMCP officers, and then a Conservative Party staffer walked him out of the building.
“They are putting more security protection into themselves and their campaign stops than they are into the environment,” Roberts told reporters outside, adding he has concerns about proposed pipeline projects.
Roberts said he had no intention of disrupting the event, or approaching Harper directly.
“They may have read that as something more escalating than it was. It was more cautious and safe to just stand there and let the three words speak for themselves.”
It’s not a coincidence that Harper made the announcement in North Bay, a community with deep connections to the mining industry in Canada.
A press release that accompanied Harper’s speech cited statistics from a study commissioned by the City of North Bay that found 65 local businesses are directly involved in the mining supply and services industry. The sector, according to the same study, employs 3,000 people in the city.
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