QUEEN’S PARK – NDP leader Andrea Horwath was up this morning in Question Period attempting to get answers from the Premier and from the Minister of Northern Development and Mines. Horwath is trying to find out what stand the Ontario government will take regarding the processing of minerals in the Ring of Fire.
Here is the transcript from the Ontario Legislature:
Ms. Andrea Horwath: My next question is for the Premier. Cliffs Natural Resources say that they plan to ship chromite from the Ring of Fire outside of Ontario — outside of Canada — to be processed. Under the Mining Act, they need permission from this government to do so. Does the Premier plan to allow the minister to simply sign off on shipping that chromite out of Ontario?
Hon. Dalton McGuinty: Speaker, I know that my colleague would like to speak to this, but I’m going to weigh in first and restate something I said before.
My colleague and I opposite have had an opportunity to debate this, I think, on a number of occasions, and we see things differently. Our shared responsibility is to do everything that we can to maximize the benefits of the development of the Ring of Fire for the people of Ontario, but I will not go so far as to erect protectionist walls around the province of Ontario because there are so many jobs today in Ontario that count on our receiving raw goods from other parts of the world, so that we can process those here and then feed our families here, as a result of those jobs.
So I’m not prepared to go that far, but I am certainly prepared to do everything that we possibly can apart from that to maximize those benefits for the people of Ontario.
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?
Ms. Andrea Horwath: Well, Speaker, people in Ontario and especially people in the north are looking for good jobs that use our natural resources to grow our economy. For days, Cliffs has been making it known that their plan to send our resources away to create jobs somewhere else is in the works.
The minister has the power to do something about it. I want to know: Has this minister actually spoken with Cliffs? Has he given them a signal as to what his plans are?
Hon. Dalton McGuinty: To the Minister of Northern Development and Mines.
Hon. Rick Bartolucci: Speaker, this is an opportunity that this government and the people of Ontario are not going to miss. The Ring of Fire provides the people of Ontario with incredible opportunity in the supply and services industry with regard to mining and job creation, not only in northern Ontario but across Ontario. This is an opportunity that this government isn’t going to squander. We’re going to ensure that we maximize the job potential that is associated with the Ring of Fire not only in the extraction, but with the rest of the parameters around mining.
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Final supplementary?
Ms. Andrea Horwath: Speaker, those of us in the NDP caucus are worried that this is going to be an incredibly lost opportunity.
The minister’s job is to bring jobs and value-added investment here to Ontario. He spent a lot of time talking during the campaign, but now he needs to do something. Will the minister grant the exemption and fight for good jobs in Thunder Bay and Sudbury, or is he going to simply keep talking and talking while good jobs get shipped away …
Hon. Rick Bartolucci: We, unlike the NDP, aren’t going to speak in hyperbole. There has been no application for exemption at all. We are at the beginning stages of the Ring of Fire. We’re only at the initial stages of the environmental approval. But what we can say categorically is we are going to ensure that we maximize the potential of the Ring of Fire for all Ontarians.
We see this as an enormous opportunity to create those long-term mining jobs that each and every one of us in this House should want to create for Ontario. We, as a government, are not going to miss that opportunity.