Archive | Northern Ontario Politics

NEWS RELEASE: Erin O’Toole announces Energy & Natural Resources Policy

“Making the opportunities of Ontario’s Ring of Fire a national priority
by declaring chromite a nationally significant resource and the development
of the Ring of Fire as a project of national significance. This will allow
the Government of Canada to take the lead on the Ring of Fire and expedite
the transportation corridor urgently needed to attract more investment into
the many northern Ontario communities which sought to host the Ring of Fire’s
infrastructure.” Erin O’Toole

OTTAWA, February 23, 2017 – Conservative Party of Canada leadership candidate Erin O’Toole today announced his plan to reinvigorate Canada’s economy by advancing major energy and natural resource projects.

O’Toole announced that, as Prime Minister, he will support the energy and natural resource sectors by:
• Passing a National Strategic Pipelines Act, declaring major pipeline projects, including Energy East, as strategic to Canada’s economic interests. Continue Reading →

‘Alternate hydro facts’ ring of truth – by Thomas Perry (Timmins Daily Press – February 18, 2017)

TIMMINS – Listening to Ontario Progressive Conservative Leader Patrick Brown and Liberal Energy Minister Glen Thibeault go back and fourth on the province’s hydro rates brings to mind a misattributed catchphrase from a 1960s television show.

Despite common belief, Det.-Sgt. Joe Friday’s monotone voice never actually proclaimed: “Just the facts, ma’am,” on any episode of the popular Dragnet. That line was actually featured in Stan Freberg’s works parodying the show. Having said that, Brown was clearly preaching to the choir while in Timmins on Thursday.

After all, this community lost hundreds of jobs when Xstrata made the decision to close its met site in May of 2010 and ship ore to Quebec for processing. Quebec, like Manitoba to the west, has much more economical electricity rates, which was certainly a factor when Xstrata made its decision. Continue Reading →

Ontario Northland bounces back after dodging a government bullet – by John Michael McGrath ( – January 27, 2017)

There’s nothing like a near-death experience to focus the mind. Just ask the people at Ontario Northland, the provincially owned company that runs trains and buses across the province’s northeast.

It’s been nearly five years since then-finance minister Dwight Duncan introduced an austerity budget that would have privatized Ontario Northland’s operations, sending shock waves through the north and reinforcing attitudes among local residents that the Liberals simply didn’t understand the needs of the region.

Formally called the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission (ONTC), the agency has a long history. Founded in 1902, its rail expansion into northern Ontario was crucial to the settling of towns like Cochrane, and, after World War I, it built what is still the only year-round connection to Ontario’s James Bay shore. Continue Reading →

Arrested Development: Down, down, down? Ring of Fire still a burning question – by Sunny Freeman (Financial Post – December 13, 2016)

The nine chiefs of the Matawa First Nations closest to Ontario’s Ring of Fire gathered around a conference table in July 2013 at what seemed like a historic crossroads to debate the merits of development in a region that had never before experienced it.

Promises of jobs, revenue sharing and infrastructure improvements, some said, could bring prosperity to the struggling communities. On the other hand, development could come too rapidly and at too high a cost to their land and traditional way of life. They needn’t have worried. Three years later, development of the 5,000-square-kilometre area of the James Bay Lowlands is still stuck in neutral.

The Ring of Fire is a deposit of minerals — including nickel, copper, gold, zinc and the extremely rare chromite — some 540 kilometres north of Thunder Bay that is said to be worth up to $60 billion. Dubbed “Canada’s next oilsands,” it could be the biggest resource development Ontario has seen in more than a century. Continue Reading →

Network battling to restore passenger rail in northeastern Ontario – by PJ Wilson (North Bay Nugget – November 23, 2016)

Every person in Ontario pays $155.62 a year to support the GO trains and buses that operate in southern Ontario. Meanwhile, the provincial subsidy for the now-defunct Northlander passenger train cost 86 cents for every man, woman and child in the province, according to Eric Boutilier.

Boutilier, a member of the Northern and Eastern Ontario Rail Network, said Tuesday it is possible to bring passenger rail service back to northeastern Ontario. It’s going to take a fight to do so, he said, but it’s a fight that’s well worth the effort.

“In Northern Ontario, we have very limited options for transportation,” Boutilier said. “If you want to get anywhere, you have to take the highway.” But particularly in winter, he said, that option is not always do-able. Continue Reading →

[Northern Ontario] FedNor ‘here to stay,’ minister says – by Ben Leeson (Sudbury Star – October 14, 2016)

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.” Continue Reading →

September 2016 Mandate letter: Northern Development and Mines – Premier’s instructions to Minister Michael Gravelle on priorities. (September 23, 2016)

Dear Minister Gravelle:

Welcome back to your role as Minister of Northern Development and Mines. As we mark the mid-point of our mandate, we have a strong and new Cabinet, and are poised to redouble our efforts to deliver on our top priority — creating jobs and growth. Guided by our balanced plan to build Ontario up for everyone, we will continue to work together to deliver real benefits and more inclusive growth that will help people in their everyday lives.

We embark on this important part of our mandate knowing that our four-part economic plan is working — we are making the largest investment in public infrastructure in Ontario’s history, making postsecondary education more affordable and accessible, leading the transition to a low-carbon economy and the fight against climate change, and building retirement security for workers.

Building on our ambitious and activist agenda, and with a focus on implementing our economic plan, we will continue to forge partnerships with businesses, educators, labour, communities, the not-for-profit sector and with all Ontarians to foster economic growth and to make a genuine, positive difference in people’s lives. Collaboration and active listening remain at the heart of the work we undertake on behalf of the people of Ontario — these are values that ensure a common purpose, stimulate positive change and help achieve desired outcomes. Continue Reading →

NEWS RELEASE: New commentary suggests a prosperous future for Northern Ontario rests on how we are governed

Click here for full document:

September 27, 2016 – A new commentary released by Northern Policy Institute suggests that many of Northern Ontario’s economic and social problems are linked to how the region is governed.

In the last thirty years, Northern Ontario’s economy has not performed as well as the province as a whole – or than the economies of northern parts of other provinces. Beyond economic issues, Northern Ontario is also underperforming in education and general conditions of its population, particularly Indigenous peoples.

Governance in Northern Ontario: Taking Ownership of the Future, by David MacKinnon, uses evidence to propose that Northern Ontario should pursue a regional governance model – people in a region determining their collective ends, means, and values – as a major step forward for the region. Continue Reading →

[The Great Provincial Divide – Northern Ontario Separation] – The Agenda’s Steve Paikin interviews Laure Paquette, Erik White and Stan Sudol (March 11, 2016)

The Agenda explores the idea of northern Ontario separating from the south.

Laure Paquette is an Associate Professor at Lakehead University’s Political Science department in Thunder Bay.

Erik White is a journalist at CBC Radio Sudbury.

Stan Sudol is publisher/editor of, a mining aggregator website, freelance mining columnist for the Sudbury Star and communications consultant in Toronto.


Sudbury PoV: North wants results from Trudeau – Editorial by Don MacDonald (Sudbury Star – August 31, 2016)

Don MacDonald is the editor of the Sudbury Star.

In recent weeks, Sudbury and parts of Northern Ontario played hosts to Canada’s two most powerful Liberals. However, the way Premier Kathleen Wynne and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau were received is a study in contrasts.

Wynne came first, starting a weeklong visit to the region in Sudbury and finishing in Kenora. She visited more than a dozen communities and made a series of funding announcements, including $2.3 million to support film and TV production in Sudbury.

The money was nice, but she had little to say on getting the stalled Ring of Fire project started, and defended rising hydro costs. The Ring of Fire, and its massive mineral wealth, could one day be the key to getting new life injected into Northern Ontario’s economy. But the provincial Liberals seem content to study the project ad nauseam. Continue Reading →

Has the federal government dropped the ball on Ring of Fire development? – by Jordan Press (Victoria Times Colonist – August 25, 2016)

The Canadian Press – OTTAWA – “The Ring of Fire is a provincial initiative that the previous federal government was extremely detached from and uninterested in.” — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

When a local reporter went digging for answers from Justin Trudeau about stalled development in the so-called Ring of Fire in northern Ontario, the prime minister went panning for political points.

Far away from where he stood in Sudbury lies one of the world’s largest undeveloped deposits of chromite — a key ingredient in stainless steel — as well as deposits of nickel, copper and platinum. But development hasn’t budged in the last 10 years.

Trudeau pointed the finger at the previous Conservative government. “The Ring of Fire is a provincial initiative that the previous federal government was extremely detached from and uninterested in,” Trudeau said after a cabinet retreat in Sudbury, one of the cities that could benefit from Ring of Fire development. Continue Reading →

Ring of Fire talk scarce at Sudbury federal retreat – by Carol Mulligan (Sudbury Star – August 23, 2016)

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. Continue Reading →

EXCLUSIVE: Ring of Fire road study produces inconclusive results about transportation in Ontario’s remote north – by Jody Porter (CBC News Thunder Bay – August 22, 2016)

Report suggests more study needed to determine viability of all-weather access for remote First Nations

A $785,000 study, jointly funded by Canada and Ontario, suggests more study is needed before deciding if an all-weather road should be built in a mineral-rich area known as the Ring of Fire in northern Ontario.

The study was announced in March 2015 at the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada convention in Toronto and was widely seen as a step towards getting “significant” nickel and chromite deposits out of the muskeg and off to markets.

“Today’s announcement represents our federal government’s latest meaningful contribution to helping the province enhance the economic potential of the Ring of Fire,” Canada’s then-Minister of Natural Resources Conservative Greg Rickford said at the time. But it turns out, the study was never really about mining. Continue Reading →

Sudbury Star Editorial: What Northern Ontario needs from Ottawa – by Don MacDonald (Sudbury Star – August 17, 2016)

Voters in Northern Ontario were good to Justin Trudeau and federal Liberals, giving the party seven seats in its return to power in 2015, including the Sudbury area’s two ridings. So in a way, it’s no surprise that Prime Minister Trudeau and his cabinet are meeting in the Nickel City for a retreat, starting Saturday.

The cabinet has a lot on its plate, as all federal cabinets do. But given where they are meeting, let’s hope Trudeau and his ministers take some time to consider what Northern Ontario and Greater Sudbury could use from the federal Liberal government.

If the ministers spend any time on Sudbury’s roads, they will learn quickly they are a mess. The City of Greater Sudbury is spending less than half of what it should each year to maintain its roads; there is a backlog of hundreds of millions worth of work that needs to be done and little money to do it. It’s a backlog that grows every year. Continue Reading →

Can Kathleen Wynne handle northern Ontario’s growing discontent? – by Steve Paikin ( – August 8, 2016)

Kathleen Wynne arrives in Little Current, Manitoulin Island, in a big black SUV, surrounded by all the trappings of being premier of Ontario. There are the omnipresent staffers who do the advance work and try to keep her on schedule. And there is the Ontario Provincial Police security detail trying to look unobtrusive but not quite succeeding.

Wynne has decided to drop in on the Manitoulin Country Fest. It’s a blazingly hot day on the world’s largest freshwater island, and probably the last thing on anyone’s mind in this town of 2,700 people is politics. A smallish crowd has come to hear country music, and while Wynne doesn’t want to interrupt their enjoyment of the day, this is Day Two of her current northern swing.

And so, she will do the thing she is so good at ̶ shake some hands, make small talk with the locals, meet some island politicians, hear about their concerns, check out what’s on offer at the booths, and listen. Continue Reading →