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Northern Ontario (2 x) Leaders’ Debate on Ring of Fire

I had a chance to attend the Ontario leaders’ debate in Thunder Bay hosted by the Northwestern Ontario Municipal Association, the Northwestern Ontario Associated Chambers of Commerce and the Northern Ontario Development Network.  I attended as a private citizen, paying my own conference fee.  In case you hadn’t already heard in the news, Ontario Conservative Party leader Tim Hudak and Ontario New Democratic Party leader Andrea Horwath were there, but Ontario Liberal leader Dalton McGuinty wasn’t.

I took a few notes, and thought I’d share some Ring of Fire highlights with you from the hour-long debate.

Hudak’s verbal commitments during the debate:

  • Sharing “mining tax revenues” on all new mines, as well as stumpage fees, with “host First Nations and host municipalities” (“host” is a new term to me in this context – it’s not in the northern platform document, and wasn’t explained in the debate)
  • Revoking the Far North Act  (without offering any specific alternative other than to say the focus will be on creating jobs, not “catering to southern Ontario special interests) – accused Horwath of offering a “Far North Act Junior” as an alternative
  • Having the Minister of Northern Development manage development in the Ring of Fire instead of what he referred to in a radio interview earlier in the day as a bureaucrat “hidden away in the system” (my recollection of the wording, not verbatim), referring to Ontario’s Ring of Fire co-ordinator
  • Being, if elected Premier, the “lead salesman” of the Ring of Fire’s benefits to Ontario and Canada
  • Continuing Northern Ontario Heritage Fund at $100M/year

 

Horwath verbal commitments during debate:

  • Revoking the Far North Act (without offering any specific alternative other than to say is to have FNs at the table, with everyone working together, not having different interests competing against each other)
  • Creating a $35M infrastructure fund, which could be a source of funds for infrastructure needed for developing the Ring of Fire
  • Continuing Northern Ontario Heritage Fund at $100M/year
  • Ensuring resources extracted in northern Ontario are processed in northern Ontario
  • Reducing electricity costs, in part, by re-combining five (?) entities that used to make up Ontario Hydro

If you were there, I’d love your comments on the exchange.

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