QUEEN’S PARK – Leaders Ledger – The Far North Act is exactly the kind of bill that irks northerners. Somebody in southern Ontario developed a solution for a problem that only exists in the minds of those in the south, and forced a bill onto the north.
We’ve heard some names thrown around here today; let me just remind you. The Ontario Prospectors Association, in the Kirkland Lake Northern Daily News on October 12, said the bill will cripple exploration. And, yes, the Mushkegowuk Council’s grand chief, Stan Louttit, said in the Timmins Daily Press on December 31: “We’ve made it very clear to the government that we stand united in opposition to this bill. There are issues in regard to the bill’s key jurisdictions, as well as treaty rights that are not being recognized.”
Speaker, as mayor of the city of North Bay at the time this act was passed, I can tell you there was extremely limited discussion in northern Ontario and northern Ontario consultations. And as you’ve heard me read, the First Nations have been very critical in their criticism.
Speaker, when you look at a photo of a cathedral, 200 years from now, that photo is going to look the same, that cathedral is going to look the same, but a forest is quite different. The softwoods fall, they create fuel for the hardwoods, and the forest burns. Look at what happened in the northwest this summer, one of the most raging summers that we’ve had out there, causing destruction all through the northwest. Forests need to be properly managed. That is something that I think all of our parties would agree on.
Let me talk a little bit about the mining side now. Let me talk about the Ring of Fire. As members know, I have ventured up there in the summer and in the winter and belong to the very few members who have actually been to or actually set foot in the Ring of Fire. We look at the Far North Act and the land that it takes out of play in both the forestry and the mining sector. If this act had been passed only a few years earlier, could you imagine the fact that the Ring of Fire would not have been discovered? So we say, if this is the kind of activity that is going to happen through the Far North Act—you can’t have mining exploration—then I would ask you: What else are we not discovering today in the area that’s now a museum in northern Ontario? What else are we not discovering?
I would say, for the businesses in Nipissing riding, the 70 mining and manufacturing-related companies—we are heavily in the exploration business. This is big business to us as well; 70 companies in North Bay and Nipissing rely on the forestry and mining sector. I don’t see anybody in southern Ontario standing up for them. Of course, you’ve heard me say this in the House many times. To those here in southern Ontario, there is nothing really farther north of Steeles Avenue. This is a really great example of exactly that philosophy: that they just don’t believe that anything exists north of Steeles Avenue.
This Far North Act makes a virtual museum of such a vast piece of northern Ontario, Speaker, that it puts the businesses—the hard-working men and women in the city of North Bay and the riding of Nipissing—in jeopardy.
Vic Fedeli MPP