Rails to the Ring of Fire – Stan Sudol (Toronto Star – May 30, 2011)

The Toronto Star, which has the largest circulation in Canada, has an enormous impact on Canada’s federal and provincial politics as well as shaping public opinion.

Stan Sudol is a Toronto-based communications consultant, mining columnist and blogger: stan.sudol@republicofmining.com

Notwithstanding the recent correction in commodity prices, near-record highs for gold, silver and a host of base metals essential for industry confirm that the commodity “supercycle” is back and with a vengeance.

China, India, Brazil and many other developing economies are continuing their rapid pace of growth. In 2010, China overtook Japan to become the world’s second largest economy and surpassed the United States to become the biggest producer of cars.

In March, Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney remarked: “Commodity markets are in the midst of a supercycle. . . . Rapid urbanization underpins this growth. . . . Even though history teaches that all booms are finite, this one could go on for some time.”

Quebec’s visionary 25-year “Plan Nord” will see billions invested in northern resource development and infrastructure to take advantage of the tsunami in global metal demand and generate much needed revenue for government programs.

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Memo to Drummond and McGuinty: Consolidate Ontario Mining Programs at Laurentian University – by Stan Sudol

Stan Sudol is a Toronto-based communications consultant who writes extensively on mining issues. stan.sudol@republicofmining.com

The Sudbury Basin itself, is the third most strategic and richest hardrock
mining centre in the world. The four combined mining clusters found in
Sudbury – mineral operations, education, research and supply and
services – are globally unique. (Stan Sudol)

Ontario’s mining industry is facing a perfect storm of skills shortages – mining engineers and geologists – at a time of severe provincial budget constraints. These fiscal problems will only diminish the mineral sector’s post-secondary education programs at a time when global economies are experiencing the most extraordinary demands for metal products in the history of mankind – a commodity super cycle.

According to the Mining Industry Human Resource Council’s (MiHR) 2010 Canadian Mining Industry Employment and Hiring Forecast report, under the baseline scenario the Canadian mining industry will need to hire 100,000 new workers by the end of 2020. This is the number of workers required to fill newly created positions and also to meet replacement demand as workers retire or leave the mining industry.

That forecast represents MiHR’s baseline scenario, if commodity prices perform better than expected (the expansionary scenario), the cumulative hiring requirements could reach nearly 135,000 workers by 2020.

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More professional programs calling Northern Ontario home – by Louise Brown (Toronto Star – May 28, 2011)

Louise Brown is the education reporter for 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.

There’s a new northern exposure to higher education in Ontario. First there was a fancy $95 million two-campus med school launched in cities known more for training drillers than doctors: Sudbury and Thunder Bay.

Then the lofty Law Society of Upper Canada gave its blessing this month to Thunder Bay’s dream for a law school, leaving Lakehead University to hope for provincial approval — and funding.

And this week, Queen’s Park approved a $44 million new school of architecture for Sudbury, kicking in $21 million. With the city pledging another $10 million for a program it hopes will pump $50 million a year into the Big Nickel’s economy, Canada seems poised to land its first new architecture school in 40 years.

Doctors, lawyers, architects — why so many blue-chip professional programs in the green woodlands that hold only 6 per cent of Ontario’s population?

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The Liberal HST Tax Will Be Good For Northern Ontario Business – by David Robinson

Dr. David Robinson drobinson@laurentian.ca is an economist at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Canada. His column was originally published in July issue of Northern Ontario Business. Established in 1980, Northern Ontario Business provides Canadians and international investors with relevant, current and insightful editorial content and business news information about Ontario’s vibrant and resource-rich North.

I genuinely like politicians. The ones I know are all smart people with good people skills. Some of them even buy me lunch.

It bothers me when a politician I like pushes a policy that I know is dumb. I absolutely cringe when the provincial conservative leader Tim Hudak and provincial NDP leader Andrea Horwath talk about the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST).

As an economist, I know that the HST is a good idea. The Provincial Sales Tax (PST) is out of date, costly to operate, badly designed and it penalizes jobs in Ontario. The PST has all the virtues of a car engine with a ruptured head-gasket, a broken valve and cracked exhaust manifold. It might still run, but it is noisy, stinky and inefficient.

Let me be clear about this: the vast majority of economists support combining the federal and provincial sales taxes. We are so sure that a bunch of Canada’s most respected economists produced an open letter saying they “strongly support implementation of the HST,” because “it will promote investment, jobs, and higher wages.” One leading tax analyst showed harmonization in B.C. will create 113,000 new jobs by the end of the decade; Ontario is three times as big and has relatively more manufacturing.

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Former Premier Peterson’s Northern Ontario Vision Beats Current McGuinty Policies – by David Robinson

Dr. David Robinson drobinson@laurentian.ca is an economist at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Canada. His column was originally published in Northern Ontario Business.

The year 1990 was the high point in development planning for the North. The most dramatic and successful initiatives came from a southerner, David Peterson.

Peterson was elected in 1985. He immediately created a new Ministry of Northern Affairs and Mines. He appointed himself minister and went to work. He moved the Ministry of Northern Development and the Ontario Geological Survey to the North. This was the most effective single development decision of the last 30 years. Then the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Act was passed in 1990. And that was the year the voters threw Peterson out. Not much has happened since.

Leonard Cohen must have been thinking of this wild affair when he sang:

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A Ten Point Northern Ontario Stimulus Package – by Dr. David Robinson

Dr. David Robinson - Laurentian University Economist

 Dr. David Robinson is an economist at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Canada. His column was originally published in Northern Ontario Business.

Harper has adopted the coalition budget. He will spend up to $30 billion to moderate the recession that he recently discovered. That is $895.66 for each man, woman and child in Canada. Northern Ontario has 678,900 of Canada’s 33,495,032 citizens. Our share of the stimulus package is $563 million. We should make sure it is well spent.

Economic stimulus is not about bailing out companies by giving them money. It is about helping businesses survive by stimulating demand. That’s why there is so much emphasis on  infrastructure projects. Infrastructure usually means roads, and other public works. Infrastructure projects put the construction industry to work. The construction industry hires unemployed workers. Since supplies are generally bought locally, infrastructure projects boost the local economy.

Tax cuts, on the other hand, are a very poor way to help Northern Ontario. If you give every Northerner $895, a lot of it would be spent on consumer goods. Canada imports consumer goods, so a tax cut goes almost directly to foreign producers. The Harper-Flaherty GST cut was terrific for our trading partners.

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