THUNDER BAY – Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty’s reach out to Prime Minister Harper on the Ring of Fire started early in May. The Premier wrote the Prime Minister on May 8th seeking federal goverment assistance. The Premier stated, “The Ring of Fire, located 540 kilometres north of Thunder Bay, is one of the most promising mineral development opportunities in Canada in almost a century”.
The May 8th letter continues, “Tomorrow morning, Cliffs Natural Resources management plans to announce the Ontario location of their ferrochrome processing facility, and Ontario Ministers will announce the province’s plans to engage First Nations in the region to help those communities benefit from this historic opportunity”.
“I am writing to invite your government to take a more active role in supporting the tremendous economic development opportunity associated with the Ring of Fire”.
The Premier adds, “Canada needs to deal with the acknowledged and widespread problems of inadequate First Nation’s social and community infrastructure. To this end there needs to be immediate investment in the First Nations communities located in the Ring of Fire area so that a healthy and skilled First Nations workforce will be ready to participate fully in the many opportunities presented by this development”.
“Most urgently, increased federal support for basic education leading to skills training and investment in addictions treatment programs are needed now. Your 2012 budget takes some important first steps to improve First Nations education on reserves. Cliffs Natural Resources has invested in drug treatment programs in the region. This should be supported by addictions treatment investments on reserves by your government”.
The Premier closes his letter to the Prime Minister stating, “Using a tripartite process, I would like to build on the work that has been done to date by our officials on the Ring of Fire. I understand a multi-ministry meeting of senior officials has recently been organized. I would like to see the Ring of Fire become as high a priority for your government as it is for mine, for the benefit of Ontario – and indeed all Canadians – for generations to come. Just as the federal government has supported large-scale resource development initiatives in other parts of Canada, Ontarians need a strong federal partner to allow us to continue generating the economic prosperity that helps support this country. I trust I can count on your government’s support. I look forward to meeting with you to discuss this further.”
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