THUNDER BAY – The Far North Act when held up to Plan Nord, its Quebec counterpart makes for a very stark contrast. In Quebec, Plan Nord has the unbridled support of Premier Jean Charest. The goal of the project is to get development in Quebec moving forward in a positive manner with respect, and with engagement.
Here is what the Quebec Government states on their effort, “The Plan Nord is one of the biggest economic, social and environmental projects in our time. The Plan Nord will be carried out over a period of 25 years. It will lead to over $80 billion in investments during that time and create or consolidate , on average 20,000 jobs a year”.
Contrast that to Ontario, The Ministry of Natural Resources says, “The Far North is one of the last, great, largely undeveloped spaces on our planet. It’s a magnificent area with immense cultural and historical value, vast natural resource potential and incredible worth as a wildlife habitat for many sensitive species.
“The Far North represents 42% of the province and is under increasing pressure for new resource development. It is also an area of the province where there has been very little comprehensive land use planning”.
In Ontario when compared to Quebec, what appears lacking is the bold and visionary planning backed up by the financial empowerment to really make Ontario’s plan work. In Quebec, Premier Jean Charest has put his full support behind the plan to engage and develop the Nord.
In Ontario, it is honestly hard to figure out how much the North really means to Premier Dalton McGuinty.
As one delegate to the presentation stated today, “Yippee, but at least we have a colouring book!” (Ministry of Natural Resources)
Quebec has a plan, has funded their plan, and set targets. Ontario has issued broad statements.
Now in many ways, Ontario is not at the same level as Quebec, but there is a lot that Ontario could learn from Quebec.
One would be in dealing with First Nations.
The representatives from NATIONAL Public Relations were very clear in explaining how gaining mutual respect was a key component to Quebec’s plan.
In Ontario, that respect appears to “need improvement”. In Ontario the Far North Act was passed and enacted even though promises were made to First Nations it would not pass without their agreement. Those agreements were never reached.
Ontario has, in our north the ability and all the assets our region to fuel Ontario’s return atop Canada’s provinces. However it equally demands the funds, political will and engagement for Ontario’s Far North plan to succeed.
That means more than announcements, and a colouring book. Much more.
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