Taking the Message to Canada’s MPs – by Marilyn Scales

Marilyn Scales is a field editor for the Canadian Mining Journal, Canada’s first mining publication. She is one of Canada’s most senior mining commentators.

Last Tuesday, Nov. 18, mining executives from across Canada met in Ottawa for their annual Mining Day on the Hill. Organized by the Mining Association of Canada (MAC), the event puts industry supports in the offices of select Members of Parliament and federal officials to deliver the message that our industry deserves their support.

“A strong mining sector benefits Canadians in every riding across this country,” said Jim Gowans, president and CEO of De Beers Canada and MAC chair. “We are all facing difficult economic times. Now it is more important than ever that we work with government to ensure that programs, regulation and legislation help to sustain mining jobs across Canada. This is more relevant in remote locations where economic development options are limited and operating costs are high.”

The mining industry has enjoyed one of the longest prosperous periods in history, but it is not immune from worldwide economic events. Due to the financial crisis, all capital expenditures are under review as is the level of discretionary expenditures on exploration. All spending will be reduced in line with changing market realities. Canadian policymakers and businesses cannot be complacent.

To miners that is simple economics, but the Canadian government is faced with conflicting demands from competing sectors and needs to be reminded frequently what it can do to maintain the health of the mining industry.

Mining Day participants brought four needs to the forefront. They said the federal government must –

1)    Stay the course, not undermine the investment climate.

2)    Maintain its commitment to regulatory review and implementation of the Northern Regulatory Improvement Initiative to develop resource management policy.

3)    Implement air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions regulations that are efficient and effective without duplications between jurisdictions. Set appropriate targets.

4)    Implement a clearly understood approach by governments on consultation and accommodation of First Nations. Resolve First Nation land claims. Encourage Aboriginal participation in mining.

Representatives of the mining industry are always welcomed on Parliament Hill, even if individual MPs haven’t given the sector a moment’s thought since last year. At least they are listening to our message, and maybe some year soon they will create a truly mining-friendly administration.

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