Can Ontario become a one-stop shop in electric vehicle manufacture unlike any other market in all of North America? Premier Doug Ford thinks so. And in the abstract, he makes a good case. In the specific, there are major hurdles to be overcome.
Consider, first, the long-troubled Ring of Fire, the much touted and frequently stymied reserve of mineral riches in the James Bay Lowlands. The Ford government’s economic outlook of a week ago promised that the Ring of Fire, with its reserves of nickel, cobalt, manganese and more, will play a key role in the future of clean manufacturing in Ontario.
Makes sense. Such elements are essential in the lithium-ion batteries that power electric vehicles. And certainly northern Ontario has a world-class reputation when it comes to mineral extraction.
The province does not, however, have a world-class reputation for meaningful consultation with First Nations, which the government insists it is now addressing, in part through collaborative discussions with Nishnawbe Aski Nation, which represents 49 First Nations communities.