Steve Demmings is the former founding CEO of the Thunder Bay Community Economic Development Commission.
In early March, the Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada held its annual mining convention in Toronto. Federal Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr gave the keynote address. As the founding CEO of the Business Council of Manitoba, Carr understands the importance of the mining sector to Manitoba’s economy.
He knows large and mid-size companies account for 33 per cent of the metals, mining and energy sectors in Canada. Carr’s pledge to the association was, “to position the Canadian mining industry for long-term success,” which includes “investing in innovation, ensuring regulatory stability, engaging with indigenous groups and supporting mineral exploration.” While the devil is in the details, his pledge was welcome news.
This year’s convention was more positive compared with past years. There was a feeling commodities may be bottoming out and seeds of recovery are emerging. Canada is renowned for its natural resources. Now is the time to develop long-term strategies to make the most of it for Canadians. The southern portion of Canada enjoys superior access to community services compared with northern citizens because of infrastructure investment made during the last 150 years.
Yet, more than 80 per cent of our land mass lies to the north of the developed belt next to the United States. As the Free Press has observed more than once: “the majority of people in southern Manitoba, as the majority of Canadians, fail to appreciate the south will be the beneficiary of northern development.”
Our natural resources present long-term potential. But building that capital-intensive infrastructure in the North requires long-term vision and sustainable plans that endure changes in government.
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