Rumours of FedNor’s demise are greatly exaggerated, the minister in charge of the regional development agency insisted Thursday.
Navdeep Bains, minister of Innovation, Science and Economic for the federal Liberal government, told The Sudbury Star that despite proposed legislation to remove individual ministerial responsibility for five regional agencies, including the Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario, they will continue to carry out the same, distinct mandates.
Bains was responding to criticism from NDP MP and FedNor critic Charlie Angus, who on Wednesday called Bill C-24 “a move to mute Northern Ontario voices in Ottawa” that “goes further than even the preceding Conservative government who at least provided Northern Ontario with a dedicated minister on the file.”
“The issue there is with respect to this perception he’s trying to create that FedNor no longer exists, which is completely untrue,” said Bains, MP for Mississauga-Malton, reached while in Thunder Bay for a funding announcement. “I am the minister responsible for FedNor, I take that responsibility very seriously and it’s a very important portfolio.
“I want to make it very, very clear that FedNor is here to stay and that I work very closely with the MPs from Northern Ontario, including Minister Patty Hajdu (Thunder Bay-Superior), who sits at the cabinet table along with myself, to advance the issues for Northern Ontario.”
Angus, the MP for Timmins-James Bay, was a frequent critic of how the previous Tory government handled FedNor. In a release, Angus said C-24, which removes individual ministerial oversight for FedNor, the Canadian Economic Development for Quebec Regions, the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency, the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario and Western Economic Diversification Canada, “stands in sharp contrast to Liberal campaign promises and underscores the Liberals’ fading commitment to Northern Ontario.”
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