Ford government proposes to scrap controversial law placing ‘restrictions’ on development in northern Ontario – by Fatima Syed (National Observer – February 26, 2019)

The grand chief of the Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) is cautiously welcoming a proposal by Premier Doug Ford’s government to repeal a 2010 law that his nation viewed as a form of colonialism.

Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler made the comments after Premier Doug Ford’s government announced a public consultation to repeal the Far North Act, legislation adopted by the former provincial Liberal government that gave First Nations some control over development in their traditional territories.

The government said on Monday that it was proposing to repeal the law with the aim of “reducing red tape and restrictions on important economic development projects” in the northern part of the province, including the Ring of Fire, all-season roads and electrical transmission projects.

This objective has some critics skeptical about the government’s intentions. This includes one critic who described the review as a plan to get “First Nations out of the way” to facilitate industry and government’s mining aspirations.

Ford’s Progressive Conservative government signalled its intention to review the Far North Act in its November 2018 fall economic statement, after promising to reduce red tape related to northern development during the 2018 election campaign. The Opposition New Democrats had also promised to repeal the act, which was initially adopted despite opposition from First Nations.

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