[Manitoba Government] Asleep at the Wheel [Vale Thompson Job Cutbacks] – Winnipeg Free Press Editorial (November 20, 2010)
The Winnipeg Free Press is the oldest newspaper in western Canada and has the largest readership in the province of Manitoba.
It appears that a better expenditure of the $1 billion is the one Vale
plans — to sink it into new mining operations that will at least protect
1,000 of the 1,500 jobs Vale currently supplies. (Winnipeg Free Press Editorial)
Mines Minister Dave Chomiak is heading to Toronto on Monday to talk to Vale SA officials about the mining giant’s plan to wind down smelting and refining activities in Thompson over five years, moves that will cost the city 500 jobs. The trip will be a continuation of the frantic to-ing and fro-ing that Mr. Chomiak and Premier Greg Selinger have been engaged in since news broke Wednesday that Manitoba’s third largest city was going to take a very hard economic hit.
It might be that the hand-wringing and dashing-about is simply what politicians always do in the face of bad news — they must be seen to be “doing something,” no matter how ineffectual. Or it might be what it seems to be, that the government was caught completely off guard by the news. And that raises the question that Opposition Leader Hugh McFadyen has raised: Has the government been asleep at the wheel?
It was, after all, only seven years ago that Inco Ltd., which was subsequently bought by Vale for $20 billion, threatened to shut down all operations in Thompson because the price of nickel had fallen so low that the Thompson operations were no longer viable. So it might have been expected that the government was keeping a close eye on Thompson, which has long been represented by Steve Ashton. Read the rest of this entry »