OTTAWA – In the House of Commons on Wednesday, Claude Gravelle brought forward a motion to establish a Northern Ontario based Economic Development Agency. Here is the transcript from the Hansard:
Mr. Claude Gravelle (Nickel Belt, NDP) moved for leave to introduce Bill C-204, An Act establishing the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Region of Northern Ontario.
He said: “Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to table An Act establishing the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Region of Northern Ontario. This bill would deliver to northern Ontario an independent economic development agency free of political interference.
Every region in Canada has its own independent agency, including southern Ontario. Yet the government refuses to treat northern Ontarians equally. Under the act, 10 northern Ontario ridings would be serviced by this independent economic development agency.
I urge the government to take this bill and make it its own”.
Gravelle stated in a media statement, ““It is no accident that my first act in this Parliament is to table legislation that gives Northern Ontario its own independent economic development agency,” said Gravelle. “FedNor is now couched in Industry Canada and has less accountability than any other economic development agencies.”
“Clement had no problem handing out $3.9-million to his riding on the eve of the federal election call,” said Gravelle. “This was in addition to another $10-million in FedNor funds handed out, just before the election, to six ridings in Northern Ontario, Including $1.9-million to Georgian Bay – a community in the Minister’s riding.”
Later on Wednesday, Thunder Bay Superior North MP Bruce Hyer issued a statement. Hyer’s statement says, “New Democrat FedNor Critic Claude Gravelle (Nickel Belt) and Thunder Bay-Superior North MP Bruce Hyer tabled legislation today to give Northern Ontarians their own independent economic development agency”.
“An independent FedNor, free from political interference is something the people of Northern Ontario have been waiting a long time for,” said Bruce Hyer, after seconding the bill in the House. “New Democrat Tony Martin first introduced legislation on this five years ago, but it was blocked by Conservatives, who created an independent agency for Southern Ontario. Why do the people of Northern Ontario deserve anything less? Why not give Northerners more local control of our own regional development agency?”