Liberals come out swinging – by Carol Mulligan (Sudbury Star – September 10, 2011)

The Sudbury Star is the City of Greater Sudbury’s daily newspaper. cmulligan@thesudburystar.com

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The Liberals were the first party to offer a plan for the north and they will expand upon it if they are re-elected Oct. 6, says Sudbury MPP Rick Bartolucci.

A key component of the Grits’ Forward. Together plan is to make the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corp. a permanent fixture so future governments can’t abolish it, and to boost the fund from $100 million to $110 million.

It has created more than 16,000 jobs in eight years and will create 4,000 more per year for the next four years if the Grits are re-elected, the Sudbury MPP says. Bartolucci also vowed his party would facilitate at least eight new mines in the next 10 years and provide more family health care to underserviced areas of the province.

The Liberal incumbent was flanked by Nickel Belt Liberal candidate Tony Ryma and Timiskaming-Cochrane Liberal hopeful Denis Bonin at a news conference Friday to unveil the plan.

The event was held at the Carpenters’ Union Training Centre in Azilda, a learning facility funded by the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund, said Bartolucci.

The centre, which has trained more than 2,000 carpenters, is an example of the success of the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund, said Bartolucci.

The Liberals’ plan includes making the Northern Health Travel Grant System more user friendly and shortening the length of time it takes for people to be reimbursed.

The process for applying for grants by people who must make frequent trips out of town for medical services will also be streamlined.

Bartolucci said his government will make permanent the Northern Industrial Electricity Rate Program, providing tax credits of up to 25% of energy costs for industry.

That alone will offer “incredible opportunity for natural resource extraction. It will provide incredible opportunity for job creation and an incredible opportunity to grow,” said Bartolucci.
A Liberal government could “facilitate the process” so eight new mines can open in the province in the next decade.

Bartolucci gave the example of how he helped move forward the De Beers diamond project when he was minister of what was then Northern Development and Mines.

Premier Dalton McGuinty told him he didn’t want De Beers to “go by the wayside because of bureaucracy,” he said.

He put a team together to “expedite and meet De Beers’ timeline” — a sort of “one-stop shopping opportunity” where the ministries of Northern Development and Mines, Natural Resources and the Environm e nt worked with federal departments, such as Oceans and Fisheries and the Environment, to move the project forward.

“If we did it for De Beers, we can do it for others,” said Bartolucci. “We can create opportunity and jobs, and economic stabililty.”

Bartolucci said he is working closely with the Greater Sudbury Development Corp. to make Sudbury’s case to Cliffs Natural Resources to establish a chromite smelter here.

“We want it to come to Northern Ontario for sure, and with the permanency of this industrial energy tax credit, that’s going to go a long way to ensuring that happens,” he said.

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