QUEEN’S PARK – NDP MPP for Algoma-Manitoulin, Michael Mantha, said that Doug Ford’s continued failure to establish respectful working relationships with First Nations will hurt the advancement of future mining projects like the Ring of Fire.
“We all know there’s a huge potential in this province for mining, which will benefit Ontario’s and Canada’s economy,” said Mantha, NDP critic for Northern Development and Mines.
“However, nothing can be done unless the ground work is laid and we establish good relationships with First Nations in Ontario.
“Industry players – mining companies - are at the table. First Nations – Indigenous communities - are at the table. Municipalities are at the table.
“Can Doug Ford explain to us why his government, just like the Liberal government before him, is not ready to come to the table or prepared to roll up their sleeves and get to work with all partners?”
Mantha said that Doug Ford and the Minister of Energy, Northern Development and Mines, and Indigenous Affairs failed to acknowledge the traditional territory of the Pic Mobert First Nation during the opening of Harte Gold’s Sugar Zone mine in White River.
“Let’s be clear, the only thing this government did was cut a ribbon there,” said Mantha. “That was the prime opportunity for this government to acknowledge the lands of the traditional territory of the Pic Mobert First Nations people. However, neither the Premier nor the minister took that opportunity, or offered that respect.
“It’s hard to think that this government will come to the table fully prepared when they’re not willing or even interested in building a trusting relationship with Indigenous people.”
Mantha cited Doug Ford’s statement that disregarded the government’s responsibility to consult with First Nations on mining and development. Doug Ford said: “If I have to hop on that bulldozer myself with Vic on the other one, we're going to start building the roads to get to the mining.”
Mantha said that if First Nations are not at the table to help guide and make decisions with regard to mining and development, they will have no ability to guide their futures and ensure that their communities benefit and prosper from development.
“Does Doug Ford really believe that making statements of this kind and jumping on a bulldozer will advance any development in the Ring of Fire with the Indigenous communities that are there or the mining companies?” said Mantha.