Conservative Leader Tim Hudak (right) is joined by Thunder Bay-Superior North candidate Tamara Johnson (left) and northern development and mines critic Norm Miller Monday in Thunder Bay to discuss the party’s white paper on the Ontario’s North
Dilico Christmas Wish CampaignDilico Anishinabek Family Care Gift Bags. Call our Elf Line 345-3763 to pick up your gift bag today.
Click here for details
Tim Hudak says government regulation is handcuffing businesses in Ontario’s North.
The Progressive Conservative leader on Monday said that’s the message he heard loud and clear from stakeholders at a round table he hosted in Thunder Bay.
Hudak was in Thunder Bay to officially release Paths to Prosperity, the Conservative Party’s election-ready white paper on the future of the North and its natural resources.
He said his plan, which had no numbers attached, would fire up job creation and investment in the region. He promised it would make the area No. 1 in forestry and mining again, ensure decisions about the North are based on real science, not political science and that decisions regarding the region will be made with significant input from the people who live in the area.
According to the report, citing statistics issued by the Fraser Institute, in 2012 Ontario ranked 17th in global mining rankings. In 2000 the province topped the list.
First and foremost the province must set new targets when it comes to allowing new mines, and should increase its target to allow 10 new mines to open annually over the next five years. Ontario’s North should be treated as economic infrastructure that creates jobs, and Hudak not only called for a review of Ontario’s assets, but insisted any rail corridor to the Ring of Fire be kept in the public’s hands.
He said he’s worried Ontario is potentially letting the opportunity of a century slip through its fingers through inaction on the Ring of Fire.
“We’ve had a lot of hand holding. We’ve had a lot of conversations. People want decisions and people want jobs. I’m going to put a minister in charge of the Ring of Fire. Not some lowly bureaucrat, but somebody who will actually pound on the table and get things done, who will forge projects ahead, who will build those corridors that can be a creation for wealth and job creation again,” Hudak said in a brief media availability at a local hotel.
Hudak also addressed First Nations concerns, saying in addition to skilled jobs, he plans to give them a piece of the mining royalty pie, which he hopes earn their support for upcoming projects, rather than steadfast opposition.
Government red tape must also be dealt with, said MPP Laurie Scott, the Conservative natural resources critic. Too many decisions are being made to appease special interest groups, Scott added.
“It’s time to restore the balance between the need for protecting endangered species and the need for creating jobs which have become a new endangered species in Ontario under this McGuinty-Wynne government,” Scott said.
Norm Miller, Hudak’s critic for northern development and mines, who joined Hudak and Scott at the roundtable, said the Liberals have cut off access to too much of the North, for recreational and industrial use.
What troubles him most is that Northerners had little or no say on the policy behind the decisions.
“We will transfer more decision-making on these issues to a panel of Northern municipal representatives, Aboriginal leaders and experts,” Miller said.
“This Liberal view has a fantasy life of Northern life, one where the North has neither people nor jobs.”
Click here to submit a letter to the editor.