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Ring of Fire News – 12 Sept 11

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  • Ontario Liberal election plan:  “The Ring of Fire is one of the greatest economic development opportunities Ontario has seen in almost 100 years, said the Minister of Northern Development, Mines and Forestry. MPPs Michael Gravelle (Lib., Thunder Bay-Superior North) and Bill Mauro (Lib., Thunder Bay-Atikokan) announced the Ontario Liberals’ northern platform outside of AbitibiBowater Friday morning. The party’s commitment to the development of the Ring of Fire was one of the highlights. “We are going to commit to drive that development forward, working with all the partners in all of the sectors of the industry to make that happen, by working with the companies that are involved, with the First Nations, with the Métis Nation, with the communities to see that going forward,” said Gravelle. The party plans to open eight mines in the next 10 years ….”  (Sources: tbnewswath.com, 9 Sept 11)
  • Ontario NDP election plan:  “…. The NDP plan will protect and create jobs: Make it the law that resources that can be processed in Ontario won’t be shipped away …. Get electricity costs and bureaucracy under control and establish an industrial hydro rate that can be used by northern industries – Tackle the high cost of living in the North …. Eliminate duplication in Ontario’s electricity system, stop the private power deals and make hydro CEOs more accountable to consumers …. Respect for Northern decision-making: Ensuring First Nations benefit from resource development and are empowered to play a full role in improving their communities, give the north a voice at Queen’s Park by setting up a Northern Ontario Legislative Committee, Ensure Mining Tax revenue from new mines stays in the North with municipalities and First Nations ….”  (Source:  NDP news release, NDP northern Ontario platform (alternate download available here), 8 Sept 11; Chronicle-Journal, 9 Sept 11)
  • What “They’re” saying about NDP plan  “….  The Liberals took the first shot by accusing the NDP of proposing a “moratorium” on development north of the 51st parallel — the location of Ring of Fire and other promising mining projects. The NDP plan “would kill the Ring of Fire and destroy jobs in every Northern community,” Thunder Bay-Superior North Liberal candidate and current Mining Minister Michael Gravelle said in a news release. “I can think of nothing more ill-informed or reckless.” Not so, said the NDP. Former party leader Howard Hampton didn’t dispute the reference to a “moratorium” the Liberals found in what he said was a 2006 NDP document. But Hampton, who is not running for re-election in Kenora riding, said it was only meant as a temporary measure until a plan for Far North development had been put forward. “Back in 2006, the issue was: Are you going to make a plan for the North, or have a free-for-all? A lot has happened in five years.” A Liberal party spokeswoman said the NDP document remained “current” as of this week and it was fair to bring it to light. “The NDP only promises to get rid of the (Liberal) Far North Act — there is no detail as to what they will replace it with,” the spokeswoman said. “The document we provided is the only official information publicly available on their thinking on this issue,” she added. Hampton said focusing on a position that’s five year’s old is just playing politics. “That would be like us focusing on Dalton McGuinty saying he’d never raise our taxes,” said Hampton. Both the NDP and the Conservatives have promised to repeal the Far North Act. It was opposed by Northern aboriginal and mining groups who said it’s too restrictive on development and weakens aboriginal autonomy.”  (Source:  Chronicle-Journal, netnewsledger.com, 9 Sept 11)
  • More on the impact of a recent court decision on mining and other resource extraction.  “…. Murray Braithwaite works with Fasken Martineau, a law firm specializing in mining issues. He said the Ontario Superior Court’s Keewatin decision has changed the rules regarding resource extraction in the region. In August, the court ruled that the province cannot authorize timber and logging if those operations infringe on federal treaty promises that protect aboriginal rights to traditional hunting and trapping. It’s still unclear how that decision will affect mining operations. “Everyone is trying to digest the decision,” Braithwaite said. “The implications of leases being invalid are difficult to accept.” Braithwaite said he expects the decision will trigger an appeal and lead to years of legal wrangling. As a result, it may be a long time before the rules about doing business in Ontario’s Far North can be clarified ….” (Source: CBC.ca, 9 Sept 11; Fasken Martineau newsletter, 25 Aug 11)
  • Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn Atleo says First Nations have to be part of future mining developments. “Hundreds of billions of dollars worth of development projects across the country won’t ever break ground unless the federal government finally realizes First Nations have a final say over what happens on their territory, says Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn Atleo. With about $400 billion worth of resource-based activity expected across the country in the coming years that impacts traditional First Nations territories, Atleo said it was time for Ottawa and industry to get serious about respecting the rights of Indigenous peoples to have final word over what happens on their land. “We have much to gain by working together and a lot to lose if we don’t – because those projects cannot and will not take place without our agreement, without our involvement and without our active engagement from start to finish,” said Atleo Friday, during a Toronto speech to the Law Society of Upper Canada and the Indigenous Bar Association. Canada’s First Nations have the right to reject projects that impact their territories and continued attempts to minimize or ignore that right will lead to conflict, said Atleo. “We must not slide down the old slippery slope towards new conflicts. We must march forward on a new path,” he said ….”  (Source:  APTN, Postmedia News, 9 Sept 11)
  • Some north-shore First Nations banding together to work on areas of common concern“…. three Northern Ontario First Nations have signed a letter of intent to work together on common interests in shared traditional territories. Aroland, Ginoogaming, and Long Lake # 58 First Nations have committed to develop processes together to ensure that the First Nations are aware of activities occurring, or about to occur, within their traditional territories and that they jointly benefit from developments through proper consultations and consent. Chief Veronica Waboose of Long Lake #58 First Nation says; “Currently companies and industry are approaching our First Nations individually and we don’t have the resources. Working together as three First Nations, we can assist each other and guarantee we are all in the know about projects happening within our traditional territories.” All three communities are located approximately 350 kilometers Northeast of Thunder Bay, Ontario. Chief Sonny Gagnon of Aroland First Nation says; “Our First Nations are all going to be impacted by development happening in the area- not just one of the communities. These are our shared territories…this isn’t about divide and conquer.” The three First Nations have identified that the absence of a government to government process for consultation and accommodation between First Nations and the Federal and Provincial governments as a major issue. The Matawa First Nations Chiefs signed a Unity Declaration in July to stand together to protect the natural resources and territories of member First Nations; The three Chiefs agree that signing the letter of intent, is the next step for the declaration ….”  (Sources:  First Nation news release (alternate sites for release here and here), Wawatay News, 7 Sept 11; Northern Ontario Business, 9 Sept 11)
  • Remember the group of First Nations signing a deal to work together on Ring of Fire issues?  Not everyone is signing on – this from a letter to the editor signed by Marten Falls Chief Elijah Moonias:   “…. Marten Falls is not signing this agreement. It is the north-south corridor we want, and we have actually started the road. We would prefer a gravel road, not a railroad. The problem with a railroad is, it will cross the Albany River 50 miles up and it will not bring traffic to town. If we could achieve some ownership of the rail line, whatever we could afford, then revenue could be achieved. Cliffs, the major proponent for the chromite deposit, wants the north-south route, by road or by rail. I understand the route will be decided by the government in consultation with the public. We are also in the process of planning with the government of Ontario for a land use plan of the area. This plan has not looked into the issue of the corridor. The east-west route is proposed by Noront, a junior company, not a mining development company. I find their proposal for this route not only environmentally unfeasible but economically impossible. They want to “slurry” the nickel, copper and palladium to the “Webequie junction.” This is a pipeline pumped by diesel generators through a thousand pristine lakes and creeks. Try getting environmental approvals for that, if the money could be had to actually do it. Land use plans should be completed before declaring where the corridor will go and what it might be, road or rail. The corridor issue was discussed at the Matawa AGM in Constance Lake. To request a corridor to the Ring of Fire through the east-west plan is contrary to the Unity Statement, because this plan leaves us watching on the sidelines as our territory is approached and encroached upon in a round-about way. We cannot allow that and will find a way to safeguard our interests other than relying on statements that do not mean anything ….”  (Source:  Chronicle-Journal, 9 Sept 11)
  • Former Constance Lake chief Arthur Moore is now district manager, First Nations relations with Cliffs Natural Resources, one of the mining companies in the Ring of Fire mineral exploration area. “With my experience and knowledge, I think I can provide good input,” Moore said of his new job. “So far it’s been good. It’s a good environment at the office.” …. Moore began his employment with Cliffs Aug. 2. His role is to work with First Nations and government agencies to prevent misunderstandings and ensure good communications are in place, especially in the environmental assessment process to ensure correct information is delivered to the communities. “We are planning to do bulletins with the First Nations,” Moore said. “We need that dialogue and the dynamics to have a good relationship.” Moore said it is important to prevent misunderstandings and improve relationships with First Nations. Moore had three good job offers before he decided to accept the offer from Cliffs. “I work with senior management from Cliffs’ headquarters,” Moore said. His immediate supervisor is Joe Gaboury, director of Aboriginal Affairs with Cliffs, and he also works with the company’s directors of environment and development at the new Cliffs office in Thunder Bay. “I hope to see growth in the communities and establishing of good relationships,” Moore said ….”  (Source:  Wawatay News, 2 Sept 11)

Summary of more open source information and sources cited (1 Jun-9 Sept 11) also available here (PDF).  All information shared here in accordance with the Fair Dealing provisions (§29) of the Copyright Act.  We’re not responsible for accuracy of original material, and inclusion of material doesn’t mean endorsement.

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