The Sudbury Star is the City of Greater Sudbury’s daily newspaper.
The long-stalled chromite project in Northwestern Ontario proved to be a fierce topic of debate on Monday.
Claude Gravelle, the incumbent NDP MP for Nickel Belt, squared off against Aino Laamanen, Stuart McCall and Marc Serre over a number of business-oriented topics at a debate organized by the Greater Sudbury Chamber of Commerce.
“The Ring of Fire has been stalled for the last little while. … It is very important to have a strong MP with a business background and the expertise to work with communities, stakeholders and First Nations,” Serre, the Liberal candidate, began. “The Ring of Fire will create more jobs.”
Gravelle, who has served as the Nickel Belt MP since 2008, relied on his experience in Ottawa, noting he has visited the Ring of Fire twice and laid the groundwork for movement on the project.
“Mr. Serre is right — nothing’s moved,” he said, blaming the provincial Liberals for the chronic inaction. “The (mining) companies have been very, very clear — all the government has to do is to tell them the rules and they will be able to budget for the rules.
The First Nations communities have also been very clear – they’re not against the Ring of Fire, they just want to be at the table.”
Were the Ring of Fire to be developed, Gravelle predicted it would mean hundreds of jobs for residents of Greater Sudbury.
Laamanen, the Conservative candidate, echoed Gravelle’s argument that the provincial government is to blame.
“The Ring of Fire would be a boon for Northern Ontario,” she said. “The federal government has the funds ready and has agreed to work. We’re waiting for the provincial government to step in to do their share.”
McCall, the Green Party hopeful, contended that “in a rip-and-strip scenario” the chromite deposits could generate as much as $50 billion for Ontario. He argued the smelter would be best suited to a port city, such as Sault Ste. Marie or Thunder Bay, from where it would be easy to ship refined product to market; however, Serre emerged as a strong proponent of locating the arc furnace in Capreol.
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