“It’s one of the most exciting mining finds in Canada in the last 100 years” Premier McGuinty

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Dalton McGuintyTHUNDER BAY – For the second time this week, NDP leader Andrea Howath was up during Question Period in the Ontario Legislature on the Ring of Fire. The NDP leader is attempting to get Premier Dalton McGuinty to agree that to maximize the benefit to Ontario’s economy, that the Ring of Fire resources be processed in Ontario. “Cliffs Natural Resources says it plans to send chromite concentrate mined in the Ring of Fire to China for processing. That would redirect good-paying jobs, value-added jobs out of northern Ontario. By refusing to answer the question yesterday, the minister suggested that he was okay with it. I want to know if the Premier’s okay with it,” asked Horwath.

The Premier responded, “We are going to work with the community, we are going to work with our First Nations, and we’re going to work with folks in the north to make sure we get this right. There is a tremendous opportunity before all of us, and we will work as hard as we can, I say to my honourable colleague, to ensure that we maximize the benefits for the people of Ontario.”

The economic firestorm started over comments reported that Cliffs Natural Resources would seek to process the chromite outside of Canada. That is allowed under Ontario legislation.

It is an issue that likely will continue to crop up until a decision is made.

Here is the exchange from the Ontario Legislature:

MINING INDUSTRY

Ms. Andrea Horwath: The question is to the Premier. The Premier has called the Ring of Fire “the most promising mining opportunity in Canada in a century.” My question to the Premier is: Is he willing to let these good processing jobs from this great opportunity be shipped overseas?

Hon. Dalton McGuinty: I do share the same enthusiasm as my honourable colleague, the leader of the third party, when it comes to the promise to be found in the Ring of Fire. They tell us, Speaker, that it’s one of the most exciting mining finds in Canada in the last 100 years.

We are going to work with the community, we are going to work with our First Nations, and we’re going to work with folks in the north to make sure we get this right. There is a tremendous opportunity before all of us, and we will work as hard as we can, I say to my honourable colleague, to ensure that we maximize the benefits for the people of Ontario.

If my honourable colleague has any specific recommendations in that regard, we’d be most willing to listen to those.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Thank you. Supplementary.

Ms. Andrea Horwath: Speaker, Cliffs Natural Resources says it plans to send chromite concentrate mined in the Ring of Fire to China for processing. That would redirect good-paying jobs, value-added jobs out of northern Ontario. By refusing to answer the question yesterday, the minister suggested that he was okay with it. I want to know if the Premier’s okay with it.

Hon. Dalton McGuinty: Again, I say to my honourable colleague, we’re going to do everything we can together to maximize the benefits for the people of Ontario.

I know where my friend wants to go on this, and I can’t agree with her in that regard. She would suggest that we put up a wall around our resources sector here in Ontario. The fact of the matter is, we receive raw minerals from other parts of the world. We bring them into our province, we process them here, and we create good jobs here. So that’s not the kind of fight I want to get into with the international community.

Having said that, I again say to my honourable colleague, let us see if we can find a way, all of us together, working with northerners in particular, to ensure that we maximize the benefits of the development of the Ring of Fire for the benefit of all Ontarians.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Ms. Andrea Horwath: Well, Speaker, the sad and frustrating thing is, we’ve seen this story before. We saw it with Xstrata. Xstrata in Timmins put 700 people out of work after they exported processing jobs across the border into Quebec.

Cliffs claims that by processing the chromite into concentrate, they won’t even need the province’s approval under the Mining Act to send that quasi-processed material over to China for full processing.

I want to ask the Premier very clearly, is this something that he agrees with? Does he believe that this is the right solution and in the best interest of the province and northern Ontario people?

Hon. Dalton McGuinty: We are part of the global economy. We are a free-trading jurisdiction.

I would remind my honourable colleague that, today, in Ontario there are thousands and thousands of jobs that are associated with us receiving from other provinces, other countries, indeed other continents, minerals that are coming in for us to process here.

I say to my honourable colleague, do we really want to get into a trade battle based on protectionism, where we put up walls, because I think, in the end, that will cost us thousands of jobs, and it will hurt our families.

Having said that, let’s find a way to maximize the benefits for the people of Ontario when it comes to developing intelligently, thoughtfully and responsibly the Ring of Fire.

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