Ken Coates is a Munk senior fellow, Macdonald-Laurier Institute. Stephen Crozier is vice-president of corporate affairs, IAMGOLD Corporation.
Every once in a while, the ground shifts in the Canadian public-policy landscape. So it was earlier this month, when the Ontario government announced an agreement to share mining and forestry revenue with First Nations. The specific deal was worked out with the Grand Council of Treaty #3, the Wabun Tribal Council and the Mushkegowuk Council.
This transformative development, many years in the making, changes the very foundations of resource development in Ontario and holds the potential to set Indigenous, government and industry relations on a new path.
The situation in Ontario is well known. Many promising resource developments, highlighted by the Ring of Fire in Northern Ontario, have been stalled or slowed by Indigenous opposition. The often-stated position is that there was little reason to pursue developments when the returns to Indigenous communities were small and uncertain.
Resource companies have supported resource revenue sharing, provided it represented a sharing of current taxes. The provincial government, for their part, worried about how they would fund other development costs, like major infrastructure, if their resource revenues eroded.
An impasse had settled over the resource sector, leading to many delays, conflicts and legal struggles, all of which slowed investment and limited opportunities for Indigenous participation.