QUEEN’S PARK – The Ontario Progressive Conservatives are expressing outrage as the Far North Act has received Royal Accent. The Lieutenant Governor of Ontario gave Royal Assent to Bill 191, “stealing at least a quarter-million square kilometres from residents of Ontario’s Far North, and putting 500,000 km in jeopardy”.
“This bill tells Northerners that they can’t make use of the land they live on. Dalton McGuinty’s government has all but ensured the death of Northern communities,” said Randy Hillier, PC Party Critic for Northern Development, Mines and Forestry. “Dalton McGuinty has given away 42% of this province to environmentalist friends in downtown Toronto. This is a land grab, plain and simple.”
“Bill 191 bans all development on half of the land north of the 51st parallel. Because the bill makes no stipulations on which land is specifically off limits, the resulting uncertainty will undoubtedly play havoc with any new investments in Northern Ontario, closing 42% of Ontario’s landmass from development.
“The outcry from northern communities has just been shut out,” said Hillier. “This isn’t the same Dalton McGuinty that was elected in 2003. He’s lost touch with voters, and has decided to sacrifice Northerners. He’s more interested in a profitable relationship with environmental lobbyists than developing the North.”
“Widely derided by Northern Aboriginal, Industry and Municipal groups, the bill has been endorsed by Monte Hummel of the World Wildlife fund. In fact, the WWF was the only group consulted prior to the bill’s introduction. Aboriginal groups from as far north as Attiwapiskat and Webequie made the journey to Queen’s Park to protest Bill 191 when the McGuinty government cancelled their planned consultations in the North,” according to Hillier.
“Frankly, I can’t believe that this government could be so out of touch and belligerent,” said Hillier. “If they won’t act, we will. Should the people of Ontario elect Tim Hudak and a PC government, we have pledged to revoke Bill 191″.