AUDIO: New Democrats hone in on Ring of Fire election promises (CBC News Thunder Bay – September 29, 2015)

What the New Democrats have to say about Ring of Fire development, and counterpoints from the other parties

The federal NDP says if it forms the next federal government it will commit $1 billion to infrastructure in the Ring of Fire. It’s one of the key promises in the NDP’s Northern Ontario platform, which was announced Monday.

Thunder Bay Rainy River NDP candidate John Rafferty said his party’s plan to match Ontario’s $1 billion commitment to the Ring of Fire sends an important message.

“There’s a commitment to make this happen and that optimism will help move this program forward.” The Conservative Candidate for Thunder Bay – Superior North, Richard Harvey, said his party will commit funding when Ontario has a plan in place to develop the project.

“Simply transferring money to the province to spend on — something — when they don’t have a plan doesn’t make sense,” Harvey said.

The riding’s Green Party candidate Bruce Hyer said he wants to wait until there’s a plan in place — one that benefits northern Ontario communities, as well as First Nations.

“It’s what we have done in Canada for centuries — export jobs and raw materials,” he said. “It’s time to stop that.”

FedNor funding

Thunder Bay Superior North Liberal candidate Patty Hajdu said her party will offer up to $10 billion dollars a year for two years for infrastructure — and let provinces and municipalities decide how to spend it.

She noted it’s not up to the federal government to dictate priorities for other levels of government.

“We’re committing $10 billion per year for two years to kick start the actual infrastructure deficit and, from my perspective, that’s a true commitment to immediate action,” Hajdu said.

The NDP’s northern Ontario platform also includes a pledge to upgrade the Federal Economic Development Initiative (FedNor) to a full, stand-along regional economic agency and to increase it’s funding by $12.6 billion. And it restates a promise to invest $105 million over three years in forestry innovation and the promotion of Canadian wood products.

Other parties’ plans

Asked to highlight aspects of their parties’ platforms that would be of particular benefit to northern Ontario, Harvey highlighted his party’s commitments to stimulate the economy by dropping the small business tax rate from 11 per cent to nine per cent, and reducing payroll taxes. He also touted the Conservatives’ support for infrastructure, including its $53 billion Building Canada Plan.

Hyer pointed to Green party support for doubling funding for schools on northern reserves and for an interprovincial electricity grid to link northwestern Ontario to Manitoba.

Hajdu highlighted Liberal promises to reduce taxes on the middle class and raise taxes on those who earn more than $200,000 a year. She also pointed to the Liberal plan to replace the Conservative’s universal child care benefit with a Canada Child Benefit targeted at lower income families.

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