[Northern Ontario] English River logging suspended during court battle – by Tanya Talaga (Toronto Star – March 23, 2012)

The Toronto Star, has the largest circulation in Canada. The paper has an enormous impact on federal and Ontario politics as well as shaping public opinion.

The Ontario government has agreed to suspend logging north of the English River in a territory five times the size of Toronto as an 11-year legal fight winds its way through the courts.

Last August, the Ontario Superior Court ruled the province does not have the power to take away treaty rights negotiated over 150 years ago by allowing industrial activity without the consent of Grassy Narrows First Nation. The decision is being appealed and is expected to be heard this fall.

But while all commercial logging cannot occur in the Grassy Narrows traditional area north of the river without the community’s consent, it can south of the river, said David Sone, a spokesperson for the environmental organization Earthroots.

“The people of Grassy Narrows and First Nations across the province have suffered for decades for decisions imposed on them and their land without their agreement,” Sone said.

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Extraordinary opportunities for economic development [in Northern Ontario] – by Shawn Bell (Wawatay News – October 27, 2011)

Wawatay News is Northern Ontario’s First Nation Voice with offices in Sioux Lookout, Timmins and Thunder Bay.

Michael Gravelle, Liberal MPP for Thunder Bay-Superior North, was re-elected for the fifth straight time in the fall 2011 election. Formerly the minister of Northern Development, Mines and Forestry, Gravelle was shifted to his new role as minister of Natural Resources in the new Liberal cabinet.

Gravelle sat down with Wawatay News to discuss politics, the new mining act and opportunities for First Nation involvement in future economic development.

Wawatay News: Thinking back all those years to 1995 when you first ran, what made you think that politics is a venue to affect change?

Michael Gravelle: For some time I’ve felt that the role of a political representative is an important one. Being able to advocate and fight for your constituents, see them get the best possible treatments from governments is always something I believed in. As a very young man I began working in the political field by working as an assistant to a federal member of parliament who subsequently became a cabinet minister during the time of Pierre Trudeau’s prime minister-ship in the late 60s and 70s.

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Take advantage of mining boom Hodgson tells Aboriginal leaders – by Len Gillis (Timmins Times – October 27, 2011)


Mining Association president says Aboriginals can solve worker shortage crisis

Ontario Mining Association president Chris Hodgson has appealed to the First Nations of Northeastern Ontario to embrace mining for its economic development for Aboriginal communities, for the job opportunities for Aboriginal young people and to take advantage of an economic boom the likes of which the North has never seen before.

Hodgson was the keynote speaker Tuesday night at the first ever Mining Ready Summit and tradeshow held to build partnerships between the industry and the First Nations in the North.

The summit was held at the Days Inn in Timmins and is expected to become an annual event. Hodgson said the financial investments in the mining sector and the long-term job opportunities are unmatched by any other sector in the province at this time.

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Opportunity knocks to make amends with [Ontario] Northerners – by Ron Grech (Timmins Daily Press – October 27, 2011)

The Daily Press is the city of Timmins broadsheet newspaper. rgrech@thedailypress.ca

It is difficult to remember the last time Dalton McGuinty’s Liberals did something right for Northern Ontario’s economy. For a government that perpetually has its head up a dark cavity on Northern issues, putting forestry back under the umbrella of the Ministry of Natural Resources was like a positive first step toward making amends with this region.

The decision essentially reverses a decision the same government made two years ago to have forestry governed by two ministries — the MNR and Northern Development and Mines.

The consequence of that decision was that forestry had to deal with two sets of government bureaucracies with different sets of priorities. Last week’s cabinet shuffle set that mistake right.

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Forestry move under MNR welcomed – by Ryan Lux (Timmins Daily Press – October 24, 2011)

The Daily Press, the city of Timmins newspaper.

Renewed sense of optimism expressed

While NDP House Leader Gilles Bisson was underwhelmed by Dalton McGuinty’s “stay the course cabinet,” he joined Ontario’s forest industry representatives in expressing tentative optimism for the forestry sector based on the minor cabinet shuffle.

In general, Bisson described McGuinty’s new cabinet as a “missed opportunity” to demonstrate a change in direction. However, he said the Premier’s choice of Thunder Bay’s Michael Gravelle as Minister of Natural Resources should give Northerners a glimmer of hope.

Fuelling Bisson’s hope for a rationalized approach to forestry at Queen’s Park is McGuinty’s decision to return the forestry portfolio under the responsibility of the ministry of natural resources.

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Forestry seen as key issue in Ontario election – Special to The Chronicle-Journal (September 23, 2011)

The Thunder Bay Chronicle-Journal is the daily newspaper of Northwestern Ontario.

The three sitting political parties at Queen’s Park are weighing in on a key election issue in Northwestern Ontario, the forestry sector.

In July, the Ontario Forest Industries Association, the Northwestern Ontario Associated Chambers of Commerce, the Northwestern Ontario Municipal Association and the Federation of Northern Ontario Municipalities developed a series of questions for the Liberals, NDP and Tories to answer on forestry policies.

The responses were released on Thursday.

“We’re very pleased that all three parties took the time and effort to respond,” said Scott Jackson, manager of forest policy with the Ontario Forest Industries Association. “It’s very clear that forestry is a key issue going into this election, and rightfully so.”

The questions addressed timber production, the Endangered Species Act, the caribou conservation plan, the Ontario Forest Tenure Modernization Act, road construction and maintenance, and electricity rates.

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Threatened [caribou] species – by Ron Grech (Timmins Daily Press – September 23, 2011)

Ron Grech is a reporter for The Daily Press, the city of Timmins newspaper. Contact the writer at  rgrech@thedailypress.ca

Local Liberal candidate stands by government’s commitment to caribou conservation

Mill closures and job losses will be the price for the province’s caribou conservation plan, says sawmill owner John Kapel.

It’s a major concern,” said Kapel, owner of Little John Enterprises in Timmins. “They’re going to be losing just in the Abitibi River Forest 65% reduction in some years which is a huge drastic volume. There will be mills closing, the way I see it. It’s a very serious issue.”

Two weeks ago, Northeastern mayors held a joint press conference in Timmins expressing alarm over a plan to reduce available harvestable land on the Abitibi River forest by 25% immediately and 65% after 20 years.

The Ontario Forest Industries Association has confirmed there are other forests similarly affected. The latest Kenogami forest management unit near Nipigon is looking at a 21% reduction in wood volumes. Lac-Seul forest management unit, located in the Sioux Lookout area in Northwestern Ontario, has a 22% reduction in amount of land available to access wood.

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Caribou and forestry can co-exist – by Avrim Lazar and Richard Brooks (Sudbury Star – September 23, 2011)

The Sudbury Star is the City of Greater Sudbury’s daily newspaper.

Avrim Lazar is president and CEO of the Forest Products Association of Canada and Richard Brooks is Forests Campaign Co-ordinator for Greenpeace.

As we move into the home stretch of the Ontario election race, it’s a good time to consider the health of our forests and the future of an industry that has fuelled Canada’s growth since the early days of European settlement.

Throughout Ontario, the forest industry and northern communities recently have been through tough times. Markets have changed, global competition has increased, mills have closed and many jobs have been lost.

Meanwhile, one of our most iconic wildlife species, Boreal woodland caribou, has been listed as a species at risk. Scientists are rapidly increasing their knowledge about caribou and the causes for the decline. These include habitat loss due to human settlement, industrial uses such as forestry and mining, predation and natural population cycles. There is a clear recognition that this problem should be addressed.

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Why Premier McGuinty is Not in Thunder Bay Today for leadership debate – by Livio Di Matteo (September 23, 2011)

Livio Di Matteo is Professor of Economics at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ontario. Visit his new Economics Blog “Northern Economist” at http://ldimatte.shawwebspace.ca/

Today is the NOMA (Northwestern Ontario Municipal Association) provincial party leaders debate in Thunder Bay between Tim Hudak and Andrea Horwath.  Premier McGuinty has declined to attend.  The premier apparently has a previous engagement and furthermore probably believes that as the premier for all Ontario, debates should be held with the entire province rather than a single region as the stage.  The outrage in the North has been palpable but in simple cost-benefit terms, if I were the premier, I would have made the same decision.

I probably also would have added that the debate seemed exclusionary and elitist given that according to my last look it required a 95 dollar conference admission fee.  But then what do I know, I’m an economist, not a political advisor. By the way, the debate is being webcast on the NOMA site . Web Coverage is also available on Netnewsledger.com.

For Dalton McGuinty, coming to Northern Ontario for a regional debate is fraught with high costs and little in the way of benefits.  This is a region – that usually tends to vote Liberal or NDP anyway.  It generally is not an arena for rational and open debate with a reasonable chance that you can change someone’s mind, but a highly partisan political herd environment.  In some ridings, the tradition is to vote Liberal and when you want to punish the Liberals you vote NDP. 

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Why Northern Ontario is important for both the leaders and the economy – by Steve Ladurantaye (Globe and Mail – September 23, 2011)

The Globe and Mail is Canada’s national newspaper with the second largest broadsheet circulation in the country. It has enormous influence on Canada’s political and business elite.

For the web’s largest database of articles on the Ring of Fire mining camp, please go to: Ontario’s Ring of Fire Mineral Discovery

KENORA, ONT.— The winding roads of Northern Ontario skirt around many of its most valuable assets – mines, forest plots and mills are largely hidden in the countryside and accessible only by dirt roads and trails.

But as the province struggles to pull itself back from economic ruin, those assets aren’t going to stay hidden for long. Residents considering the wealth of riches that wait to be extracted have a sinking suspicion that they will benefit the least from the region’s resource boom.

They are concerned the good jobs – those involving processing and research – will pass them by as Southern Ontario towns position themselves to take advantage of the North’s lack of infrastructure and comparatively low number of skilled trades people.

Once they would have been resigned to their fate – but that’s changing. As the province’s top politicians descend on Thunder Bay for a debate on Friday, all eyes are on the region and its possibilities. It’s a scene also playing out in resource-rich but job-poor communities across the country, particularly in the Northwest Territories and Alberta.

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Northern Ontario needs a long-term energy strategy – by Keitha Robson (Timmins Daily Press – 2009)

 The Daily Press is the city of Timmins newspaper.

Although this column is two years old, the opinion is very relevant especially during the current Ontario election.-Stan Sudol

Keitha Robson is the manager and CEO of the Timmins Chamber of Commerce.

Now, throw into the mix that our neighbours, Friendly
Manitoba and La Belle Province de Quebec have electricity
prices roughly 60% and 40% lower, respectively, than ours,
and it’s easy to see that Ontario may very well be losing
favour as the great place (which it undoubtedly is) in
which to set up shop. (Keitha Robson, 2009)

We’ve all heard about the trouble with energy: Some sources are running out; some sources are unclean and have negative impacts on the environment; some sources are great for the environment but just can’t produce what we need, affordably.

For Ontario, the plot is a little thicker. And in Northern Ontario, thicker still.

Ontario is the largest consumer of energy in Canada, accounting for 32.3% of total energy use and has one of the highest costs of energy, second only to Alberta. In a province whose bread and butter, the energy-intensive manufacturing industry, continues to be hard pressed by economic pressures, it doesn’t help that energy pricing adds more pressure to the mix.

Not to mention the amount of energy, particularly electricity, that is consumed by mining and forestry companies in Ontario, particularly in Northern Ontario.

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[Northern Ontario] Caribou strategy draws substantial criticism – by Ron Grech (Timmins Daily Press – May 5, 2010)

Ron Grech is a reporter for The Daily Press, the city of Timmins newspaper. Contact the writer at  rgrech@thedailypress.ca

By designating huge tracts of the boreal forest as caribou habitat, the Ontario government will be exposing forestry to a litigious, bureaucratic nightmare, say industry leaders and northern municipal politicians.

“If they define the entire range as caribou habitat, they will be turning forest management over to the court systems because if you want to operate anywhere that is considered habitat, you will have to go to the government to get a permit,” explained Scott Jackson, manager of forest policy with the Ontario Forest Industries Association. “That process is open to frivolous legal challenges. So anyone who wants to stop your operations can start a legal challenge that will probably end up being decided in a courtroom in downtown Toronto.”

The Woodland Caribou Recovery Strategy establishes a line roughly parallel to Highway 11, identifying much of the forest areas north of that as caribou habitat. The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources has blocked off an expansive stretch that extends across Northern Ontario from the Manitoba border to Quebec.

The strategy clearly aims to not only preserve existing caribou habitat but expand their range and reintroduce them in more southerly regions where they haven’t roamed in decades.

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Mill closures will haunt Liberals – by Christina Blizzard (Toronto Sun – September 01, 2011)

Christina Blizzard is the Queen’s Park columnist for the Toronto Sun, the city’s daily tabloid newspaper.  christina.blizzard@sunmedia.ca

THUNDER BAY — The battle in Northern Ontario for the hearts and minds of voters in the Oct. 6 election is being waged on many fronts here.

It’s about forestry and wood allocations. About mining and resources. And the Far North Act, which critics say will strangle development and turn economically-productive forestry and mining areas into parkland.

Thunder Bay-Superior North MPP Mike Gravelle is the Liberals’ Minister of Northern Development. He’s taking flak for making changes to the wood allocation system — the lifeblood of mills.

Like many others, the Buchanan Mill in Atikokan was idled following the housing downturn in the U.S. and was recently put into receivership.

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Commentary About “Mining Marshall Plan for Northern Ontario” – by Fred Haavisto (Sault Ste. Marie Community Forester)

I read your latest article this evening in Northern Ontario Business (Mining Marshall Plan for Northern Ontario).  This was very well done, informative and a must read for every provincial and federal politician from Ontario.  You have made many key points that should be taken under consideration immediately, if not sooner.   Of course, the article tickled a number of thoughts in the mind of a lowly forester who has experienced the wilds of northern Ontario, especially those areas that have a peat substrate and high water levels.

Thank you for the heads-up on Quebec’s “Plan Nord”.  By your comments, it is much more meaningful than Ontario’s “Growth Plan for Northern Ontario 2011”.  However, as the authors said of the Ontario document….”…This Plan is a strategic framework that will guide decision-making and investment planning in Northern Ontario over the next 25 years”.

Your recommendations for a “Mining Marshall Plan” are to the point, imperative to the implemented, and applies equally well to the forest industry.  In actuality, Mining and Forestry should probably work hand-in-hand. 

1) Transportation infrastructure is necessary for both, but should not be restricted for the sole use of either or both of these sectors. 

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[Northern Ontario] First Nation chief stays behind as community flees forest fire – by Tanya Talaga (Toronto Star – July 24, 2011)

Tanya Talaga is a Queen’s Park reporter with the Toronto Star, which has the largest circulation in Canada. The paper has an enormous impact on Canada’s federal and provincial politics as well as shaping public opinion.

THUNDER BAY, ONT.—A steady stream of 20 Hercules flights have evacuated 2,800 people from Sandy Lake First Nation but Chief Adam Fiddler refuses to leave.

A relentless forest fire has crept within 9 kilometres of Sandy Lake, a community more than 500 kilometres northwest of Thunder Bay along the Manitoba border. “I have to stay,” the 38-year-old Oji-Cree chief told the Star from his band office.

“I have an obligation. A traditional role and a personal one, to keep everyone and the community safe,” said the married father of three. As of Saturday, there were 117 forest fires burning through 500,000 hectares across northern Ontario and 3,951 people have been evacuated.

Fiddler is using untraditional means to stay in touch with Sandy Lake residents, who have been moved to 11 different areas as far south as Ottawa and Kitchener. Each day he uploads a progress report on YouTube in both English and Oji-Cree. He’s even posted online helicopter surveys of the fire and videos of hungry dogs on the reserve being fed.

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