THUNDER BAY – Minister of Northern Development and Mines, Michael Gravelle is energized. The Thunder Bay Superior North MPP has completed his treatment cycle fighting cancer. Minister Gravelle is feeling thankful that throughout his treatment, his energy level stayed high and he was able to keep working.
There are important issues, especially with the Ring of Fire that have taken a lot of attention from Gravelle. One of his tasks sounds simple. “Getting the right balance”.
Minister Michael Gravelle – Getting it right
However that task means bringing together the province and the federal government and First Nations. Back in May, Gravelle shares in an interview with NetNewsLedger there was a historic meeting with Matawa First Nations, Premier Wynne and his ministry. “There had been no similar meeting for over forty years,” shares the Minister. There had been both formal and informal talks, but not a formal meeting like that.
Gravelle states that “Cliffs Natural Resources and Noront Resources are both seeing the importance of engaging with First Nations, and getting this done right”. The Minister also is looking forward to a larger role from the federal government in the Ring of Fire.
The move by the Prime Minister to bring in Kenora MP Greg Rickford had the Minister stating, “I’m very pleased that Prime Minister Harper has appointed Kenora MP Greg Rickford to the Federal Cabinet. I sincerely congratulate Greg on this exciting new position. Mr. Rickford and I have worked closely on many issues in the past and I am excited about the opportunities we will now have to work together on issues of great importance to all Northerners, particularly as they relate to economic development in the North.
Clearly, there is real synergy between FEDNOR and the Northern Ontario Heritage Corporation (NOHFC). But, I am also pleased that Minister Rickford has been given responsibility for the Ring of Fire. There is a very significant role the federal government can and must play with this project. I look forward to sitting down with Minister Rickford in the near future to discuss how the federal government and the Province can seize the many opportunities before us”.
“The province is taking a smart, sustainable and collaborative approach to resource development in the Ring of Fire,” states Gravelle. “We want development to deliver social and economic benefits for all Ontarians, while collaborating with First Nations and ensuring environmental responsibility. I am confident that Mr. Iacobucci will help ensure that everyone benefits from the economic and social opportunities of this unprecedented natural resource”.
The Minister is also encouraged with the opportunities to resolve issues with the Ring of Fire. The province has appointed Justice Iacobucci as their Ring of Fire representative. The Justice will be engaging with former Liberal leader and Ontario Premier Bob Rae. “The moves are increasingly positive,” states Gravelle. Mr. Iacobucci will report directly to Minister of Northern Development and Mines, Michael Gravelle, and will be supported by the Ring of Fire Secretariat.
I am honoured to accept this post as Ontario’s lead negotiator in the Ring of Fire. I feel passionately about involving First Nations in decisions about development in their communities and traditional lands and ensuring they benefit from the economic opportunities to be realized from development in the Ring of Fire,” commented Frank Iacobucci, the new Ontario lead negotiator for the Ring of Fire.
While admitting there are challenges, perhaps in his fight to beat cancer, Minister Gravelle is seeing challenges more as opportunities.
The positive energy from Gravelle is infectious, and if everyone else catches that level of enthusiasm, the speed the Ring of Fire could come together is going to be far faster than even the experts might predict.