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Ring of Fire News – December 15, 2012

  • A holiday note – I’m taking some time offline, so unless something HUGE happens in/around the Ring of Fire, I’ll be back online January 5.  In the meantime, feel free to hit some of the pages I have listed in the Blog Roll, enjoy, and have a great holiday season!
  • Ontario’s Chamber of Commerce:  who’s the lead federal Minister on the Ring of Fire file?  “The Ontario Chamber of Commerce has called on the federal government to support the development of infrastructure that is required to realize the potential of Ontario’s Ring of Fire mineral zone. In a report released today, it says “massive investment is needed in electricity transmission, broadband, and all-weather roads. Addressing crumbling infrastructure on-reserve is a necessity as well.” As a first step, it recommends that the federal government designate a minister responsible for the Ring of Fire. The call for Ring of Fire support was part of A Federal Agenda for Ontario, released just prior to next week’s gathering of Canada’s finance ministers ….”  Source (In Support of Mining blog) – Ontario Chamber of Commerce news releaseA Federal Agenda for Ontario (PDF)
  • Northern First Nation waiting for Ontario to decide on mediator on Cliffs’ environmental assessment  “Cliffs Natural Resources has adjusted the terms of reference for its proposed Ring of Fire mine, meaning First Nations are again being asked to provide comments and concerns. Yet at least one First Nation argues that the government should deal with an outstanding Treaty issue before expecting it to comment on the new terms of reference. First Nations were provided with Cliffs’ amended terms of reference on Nov. 30, and given 15 days to respond. Neskantaga Chief Peter Moonias said that while he wants to respond to the terms of reference, situations within his community and his family mean there is not time to do so before the date that Ontario has set. Moonias also said Ontario should deal with Neskantaga’s request for mediation on the terms of reference before expecting First Nations to respond to the amended version of the terms of reference. “The government is trying to give its mandate (to consult with First Nations) to Cliffs,” said Neskantaga Chief Peter Moonias. “They are trying to make Cliffs look like the bad guy, but the government is the one that has a responsibility to come back to the table with First Nations.”  Neskantaga filed a request for mediation on Cliffs’ terms of reference on Sept. 27. The First Nation was requesting Ontario Ministry of Environment (MOE) Minister Jim Bradley refer the terms of reference to mediation where the company, First Nation and government would be at the table. “Our constitutionally protected aboriginal rights and title and treaty rights are not appropriately addressed in the terms of reference,” Neskantaga wrote. “Therefore, numerous fundamental issues of concern arise on the terms of reference as submitted. It is our strong view that these should be addressed in a mediation between Neskantaga and…Cliffs.” An Ontario Environment spokesperson told Wawatay News on Dec. 6 that the minister is still considering the request for mediation. “The Minister continues to review the request from Neskantaga to refer its concerns related to the Cliffs Chromite Project to mediation,” ….”  Source
  • Northeastern Ontario municipal leaders on board the “build a rail line to the Ring of Fire” train?  “The Federation of Northern Ontario Municipalities (FONOM) had “full and frank” discussions on key issues of Northern significance at its November meeting, said the organization’s president …. Alan Spacek …. New Deal for ONTC members Roy Hains, Brian Kelly, Ron Marleau and Jay Aspin, MP for Nipissing-Timiskaming, updated FONOM members on the work being done to establish a James Bay and Lowlands Ports Authority to absorb the ONTC to be operated under the Canada Marine Act. The group is convinced that this Port Authority could save and create jobs in Northern Ontario. The creation of the new organization would mobilize the design and development of a rail link to the Ring of Fire discovery of chromium in the James Bay Lowlands. This would, in turn, promote a sustainable successor to the ONTC, Spacek said. “FONOM is willing to be part of any solution to save the ONTC and Timmins Mayor Tom Laughren, first vice-president of FONOM, will represent FONOM’s interests working with the ‘New Deal’ team,” Spacek said …. “  Source
  • You’ve probably heard about a Northern Ontario Chief holding a hunger strike in Ottawa to try to talk to the PM (and possibly a regal representative like the GG or Queen) about Treaty issues.  Here’s what other northern Chiefs have to say regarding how this links with the need for consultation:  “The Chiefs of Mushkegowuk Council are united in their support of fellow Chief Theresa Spence of the Attawapiskat First Nation. Chief Spence has commenced a hunger strike in Ottawa protesting the Harper government’s lack of respect for Treaties and the unilateral passing of legislation directly impacting First Nations. The Government of Canada is currently in the process of passing Bill C45, an omnibus bill that includes changes to the Indian Act as well as legislation affecting water and fisheries, areas that directly impact First Nations. Mushkegowuk Grand Chief Stan Louttit stated that “Treaties are Nation to Nation agreements recognized by Supreme Court of Canada cases and international law, but still the Harper government will not commit to any Treaty based discussions with First Nations.” Attawapiskat and the other Mushkegowuk First Nations are part of Treaty Number 9 or the James Bay Treaty. This Treaty was signed in 1905 and 1906 between the governments of Canada, Ontario and the Peoples of far northern Ontario. It recognizes the continued usage of all Cree lands for hunting, fishing and trapping “as in the days of yore.” Today, Canada and Ontario consider all lands outside of an ‘Indian Reserve’ as government or crown land. The Mushkegowuk Chiefs see this as a far cry from the intentions of Treaty.“When is the Prime Minister and the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs going to wake up?” questioned Grand Chief Louttit. “Canada continues to ignore the Treaties, as well as the provisions of the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, both of which have been endorsed by Canada. Canada’s actions are unfair, paternalistic and extremely disrespectful of First Nations. This is why you will continue to see actions taken by First Nation leaders such as Chief Spence and others who are sick and tired of unilateral actionsand decision making by government on matters that directly impact their People and communities.” The Minister of Aboriginal Affairs has boasted about conducting 5,000 consultations with First Nations since 2010. That may sound like an impressive number but most of these so called “consultations” are done in the generic government way of “comment by such and such a date if you want your concerns considered” approach. The Mushkegowuk Chiefs feel that it is time to have serious and productive dialogue, not more exchanges of letters that lead nowhere. Many First Nations have developed their own processes for meaningful consultation which have largely been ignored by the Harper government ….”  Source (Chiefs’ news release) – moreMore on Chief Spence’s hunger strike (Google News)
  • What’re Ontario Liberal leadership wanna-be’s saying about giving Northern Ontario more (political) power?  “Ontario’s Liberal leadership contenders clashed Sunday over the question of whether northern Ontario should be given more independence to resolve its own economic and social issues. Facing off in Thunder Bay for the second official debate, the seven rivals tried to fight the perception that the governing Liberals are too Toronto-centric and neglecting a region that will likely become one of the toughest battlegrounds in the next provincial election. It may be a difficult sell, given the slow progress in building infrastructure to develop the Ring of Fire chromite deposit and the cash-strapped government’s decision to privatize the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission and freeze a key energy project …. While all agreed that northern Ontario needs a say, they disagreed on how much independence should be given to the region. Leveraging his experience as the former mayor of Winnipeg, Glen Murray pledged to give the north its own regional government so it can have more say over energy, infrastructure and natural resources. The promise has earned Murray the endorsement of four northern mayors, including Thunder Bay’s Keith Hobbs. “If you look at what’s happening in Britain with devolving power to Scotland andWales, why is this happening all over the world?” he said. “Because this new economy is regional and decisions have to be made much faster.” But former aboriginal affairs minister Kathleen Wynne, who promised to form a northern cabinet committee, said she has some reservations about the idea. “My only caveat and caution is that sometimes in this conversation, it starts to sound like we’re talking about a separation process, and I don’t think that’s where we should go,” she said. “I believe we’re one Ontario. I believe we should stay as one Ontario.” …. Many of the candidates, who also included Gerard Kennedy, Eric Hoskins and Sandra Pupatello, agreed that aboriginal issues must be a top priority for the next premier, who must forge a new relationship with First Nations in new mining ventures, find ways to fight poverty and improve education and housing. Wynne said she’ll partner with the federal government to  provide better education for aboriginal youth – a promise the provincial Liberals made in their last throne speech. Takhar proposed a First Nations and Metis bill of rights to help them harness the north’s economic potential. He also promised a $500,000 fund to promote the region for film and television projects – one of the more novel ideas for job creation ….”  Source

More open source information (excerpts from information monitored 16 Nov-14 Dec 12 (PDF) here. All information shared here in accordance with the Fair Dealing provisions (§29) of the Copyright Act. The blog is not responsible for the accuracy of the source material, and inclusion of material doesn’t mean endorsement.

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