The federal government’s role in developing the Ring of Fire wasn’t on the agenda at this weekend’s Liberal cabinet retreat, although the broad issue of natural resources was, says the prime minister. The central discussion of the two-day retreat held at Laurentian University was relationships, particularly the federal government’s relationship with the provinces and territories, said Justin Trudeau.
He fielded questions Monday afternoon from reporters, most from national news organizations. The prime minister spoke at a podium with his cabinet ministers lined up behind him, with a sparkling Ramsey Lake in the background.
Security was tight at the news conference held behind the Grace Hartman Amphitheatre. Only those with media or other accreditation were admitted, and the park and boardwalk were closed to the public for a couple of hours in the afternoon.
When asked if the Ring of Fire is on the federal government’s list of priorities and if it was discussed at the retreat, Trudeau called the Ring a provincial initiative that the former Conservative government of Stephen Harper was “extremely detached from and uninterested in.”
Since being elected in October, Trudeau said his government has repeatedly said it looks forward to being positive partners in resource development with the provinces.
The federal Grits will also continue to look for opportunities to invest in “the kinds of things that are going to bring jobs” to Sudburians, result in economic growth for the region and benefit all of the North.
When asked about a study funded by the federal and provincial governments, looking into the feasibility of an east-west road corridor to help develop the Ring of Fire, Trudeau said the federal government doesn’t have all the answers about what a community or a region needs.
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