QUEEN’S PARK – Sarah Campbell, MPP Kenora-Rainy River, says the Ontario Government is once again wasting taxpayers dollars because of Minister of Northern Development and Mines Rick Bartolucci’s refusal to take a proactive approach to work with First Nations and mining companies in Ontario’s North.
On March 29, the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines entered into a $3.5 million settlement with God’s Lake Resources, compensating the company for abandoning all claims near the Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug First Nation. These steps would have been unnecessary, says Campbell, had the government made a real effort to facilitate discussions between the two sides, rather than refuse to meet with the First Nations’ leadership and sit on the sideline until it was too late.
“The Ministry could have avoided this by working with KI and setting up the joint panel promised to them back in 2009 which was to resolve outstanding issues between the community, the province and mining companies,” states Campbell, “To-date, the panel has not been struck and there has been no clear commitment on the part of the government to create the panel.”
“Ontario may be the only province in Canada where you can make a substantial profit in mining without having to break ground,” says Campbell. “You would have thought the minister would have learned his lesson after handing millions to Platinex, but once again we’re seeing our province’s limited funds being handed out to a mining company because Minister Bartolucci refuses to learn from past mistakes and start a process that will work out a solution before we get to this point.”
Campbell is calling on the Ontario government to act now by setting up the joint panel and properly funding community land use plans so that we can avoid these payouts in the future.