Speaking up for the North – by Wayne Snider (Timmins Daily Press – February 28, 2012)

The Daily Press is the city of Timmins broadsheet newspaper.

Mayor Tom Laughren meeting with provincial cabinet ministers in Toronto

Mayor Tom Laughren is wearing many hats this week as he meets with some of the most influential politicians in Ontario.

In addition to representing the City of Timmins, Laughren is also getting in face time for the Federation of Northern Ontario Municipalities (FONOM), the North Eastern Ontario Municipal Association (NEOMA) and the Cochrane District Social Services Administration Board (DSSAB) this week. The mayor is meeting with numerous provincial cabinet ministers and MPPs at the Ontario Good Roads Association convention in Toronto.

Laughren attended meetings Sunday and Monday, and has more lined up before heading home Tuesday. “It’s been very positive so far,” Laughren said in a phone interview Monday. “There has been a real willingness from ministers to listen.

“They’ve been very supportive and understanding of some of the situations we face.” So far Laughren has met with Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Kathleen Wynne, Northern Development and Mines Minister Rick Bartolucci, and Natural Resources Minister Michael Gravelle.

“I’ve had two good meetings already with Bartolucci,” Laughren said. “Among the topics we talked about was energy prices.

“He agreed to continue dialogue on that and other issues.”

Energy prices have been a key concern for Timmins and other Northern municipalities, and were cited as one of the reasons Xstrata Copper relocated its smelter operations from Timmins to Quebec.

In the meetings with the head of the MNR, the issue of future wood allocation cutbacks for the Abitibi River Forest was a key topic.

“We did most of the talking,” Laughren said. “We wanted to make sure they were clear about our concerns and ensure we will be part of the solution.”
The plan for the Abitibi River Forest (located between Nighthawk and Smooth Rock Falls), calls for an immediate reduction in harvest volume of 25% with volume losses up to 65% after 20 years as part of the provincial government’s proposed policy to improve habitat for caribou.

Convention goers also heard presentations from all three Ontario political party leaders — Premier Dalton McGuinty, Tory Leader Tim Hudak and NDP Leader Andrea Horwath.

For the rest of this article, please go to the Timmins Daily Press website: http://www.thedailypress.ca/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=3484574

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