Changes to Mining Act expose cracks in Ontario’s duty to consult with First Nations – by Aya Dufour (CBC News Sudbury – April 27, 2023)

Ministry of Mines says it engaged with First Nations after Bill 71 was introduced

A First Nation chief was sitting at his desk when he received an email from the Ministry of Mines informing him that the government was working to amend the Mining Act. This was the first he was hearing of Bill 71.

Craig Nootchtai represents the community of Atikameksheng Anishnawbek, near Sudbury, Ont. The email explained that, if it passes, the Building More Mines Act will bring changes to mine closure planning, to the recovery of minerals from mining waste and to staffing positions within the ministry.

The email went on to specify that Ontario does not have a duty to consult First Nations when it develops or changes laws, citing decisions made in the Supreme Court of Canada. That’s something that doesn’t sit well with Nootchtai. “I believe that’s wrong,” he said. “[Ontario] has a duty to consult. These changes will have a direct impact on our community and the activity that happens in our territory,” he said.

When proposing Bill 71, Mines Minister George Pirie explained that the industry-friendly amendments “aim to reduce administrative burden, clarify requirements for rehabilitation and create regulatory efficiencies.”

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