NDP lays out Northern Ontario platform – by Keith Dempsey (Sudbury Star – September 29, 2015)

The Sudbury Star is the City of Greater Sudbury’s daily newspaper.

An NDP government led by Tom Mulcair would spend $1 billion over 20 years to help develop the so-called Ring of Fire, the party’s northeastern Ontario candidates said Monday.

An NDP government would also make FedNor a full standalone regional economic agency and increase its funding by $12.6 million; and it would take a number of steps to improve the lives of natives living in first nations across Northern Ontario, the candidates said.

They outlined the party’s Northern Ontario platform during a press conference at the Northern Ontario School of Medicine in Sudbury.

“We’re the only party that has (a platform),” said Claude Gravelle, who is running to hold on his Nickel Belt seat. “We’re unique people in Northern Ontario. The highlights in this platform for me is the $1 billion in the Ring of Fire. The Ring of Fire has to be developed. The Ring of Fire will be developed, and when it’s developed, that will create jobs throughout Northern Ontario.”

The Ring of Fire is a vast, mineral-rich area located in northwestern Ontario. Developing the area has stalled for a number of reasons, including low commodities prices, the lack of infrastructure and the lack of agreements with nearby first nations.

Other key planks in the NDP platform include supporting the agriculture sector in the North by investing in rural economies, fixing the Nutrition North food subsidy program by including the 25 fly-in communities in Northern Ontario, and improving First Nations infrastructure, such as schools, drinking water facilities, roads and other services, starting with new investments of $447 million over four years.

Gravelle stressed it was important to include first nations leaders in discussions on how to develop the Ring of Fire.

“When we had the study on the Ring of Fire on the Natural Resources Committee, we brought in the miners and we brought in the first nations,” Gravelle added. “The miners said, ‘just tell us what you want, what the government wants. Tell us what the rules are and will abide by the rules’.

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