Queen’s Park pledges to work with Ottawa on advancing Far North development
Greg Rickford rejects any suggestion that the Ring of Fire might turn into Ontario’s version of Teck Frontier. “We build corridors, not mines,” answered Ontario’s Energy, Northern Development and Mines Minister, in an interview after his March 5 speech at a Greater Sudbury Chamber of Commerce lunchtime crowd. The minister was in town to outline his government’s accomplishments at the 18-month mark.
Rickford, who also serves as minister of Indigenous affairs, said the province’s focus is on building “legacy infrastructure” that improves the health, social well-being and the economies of First Nation communities, and creating the conditions for business and industry to thrive.
Teck Resources’ decision to withdraw from its Frontier oilsands mine proposal in February, after weeks of blockades in Alberta and prior to a federal decision on the $20-billion project, was attributed to the jurisdictional uncertainty in balancing resource development with climate change and Indigenous rights.
The company was careful not to point fingers at any particular level of government. Rickford did not see any comparison between the situation that scuttled that resource project and the far-from-clear regulatory path ahead for the series of rich, multi-generational mineral deposits in the James Bay region.
But he admitted to being blindsided by Ottawa’s announcement in late February on its new approach toward Far North development by ordering a full regional assessment of the Ring of Fire area.