THUNDER BAY – It could be suggested that instead of sitting down to work toward real solutions, the Ontario Government has established a platform for what might be a massive fight between junior mining companies and First Nations. Perhaps the epi-centre of that fight has already started in the Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug First Nation (KI).
The McGuinty Government has moved twice now to buy out mining companies, and has moved on its own from what the Chief of KI, Donny Morris is reporting, first to take out lands from mining exploration, and second in buying out the mining companies rather than open talks and sit down with all concerned parties and serve as a responsible government might do.
The solution offered by Minister Bartolucci in first taking all lands in the KI land claim out of contention for mining, and second in buying out the mining company sends the wrong messages to First Nations, miners, prospectors and investors.
Junior mining companies are banding together in a group called Miners United to start working together to oppose some of the efforts by First Nations on land claims. Some of the concerns being raised are because it appears that the McGuinty Government is more interested in the optics of looking good in Toronto rather than working to solve real problems.
One of the roles of government is in finding real solutions to problems, or in working to bring parties together toward finding solutions.
There is a tremendous opportunity in Ontario for the mining sector to move our entire provincial economy forward. That opportunity also extends to First Nations communities across the region. There is a ‘win-win-win’ for every party in this opportunity.
Making unilateral decisions coming from the top down is likely going to solve little, and in a worse case scenario, will only make the problem larger rather than smaller.
If the economic opportunities in the Ring of Fire and across Northern Ontario are lost, and it is because the McGuinty Government handles the problem like an overbearing 1950s style boss, all of Ontario will feel the ramifications from that mismanagement.
The message to all sides can be a simple one. Sit down together, show each other respect, and lets get things done.
Chief Content Officer