It’s not often that mining makes headlines as an election issue in Canada, but there it was last week, when Prime Minister Stephen Harper made a scheduled campaign stop in the battleground riding of Nipissing–Timiskaming in Northern Ontario.
Harper, whose incumbent Conservative Party finds itself in a tight three-way race with the Liberal Party and the NDP, told a group of supporters in North Bay that the 15 percent mineral exploration tax credit, in place since 2006, would be extended at least another three years if the government is re-elected.
Projects that face steep overhead costs due to remote locations, such as the Ring of Fire in Northern Ontario and the Plan Nord in Quebec, would qualify for a 25 percent tax credit.
The cost of extending the credit and the new enhanced credit would be about $60 million a year starting in 2016-17. Both Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau and the leader of the NDP, Tom Mulcair, have said they oppose the tax credit.
Harper lashed out at his opponents, saying that Trudeau has gone against “a number of critical projects that would develop our resources responsibly and create jobs” and that Mulcair opposes resource development for ideological reasons:
“When it comes to resource development, Mulcair stands with anti-development activists who want to halt all development no matter the consequences. The NDP’s economic policies would kill jobs and hurt Canada’s rural and Northern communities,” he told the North Bay supporters.
However two Northern Ontario NDP candidates say that it’s Harper who is out of touch, noting the Conservative government’s mishandling of the Ring of Fire, home to an estimated $60 billion worth of mineral deposits. Lacking highways, rail lines or reliable power, the Ring was dealt a major set back when Cliffs Natural Resources withdrew from Ontario operations in 2014.
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