Ring of fire news greeted with shrugs.

Author:Migneault, Jonathan
 
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The province announced Aug. 28 its plans to establish an interim board for the Ring of Fire development corporation, but critics say the announcement has been too little too late.

"I'm really pleased that we're in a position today to take this very significant step forward to drive the Ring of Fire project forward," said Northern Development and Mines Minister Michael Gravelle.

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He said the government met its commitment to establish a development corporation for the Ring of Fire chromite deposits in Northwestern Ontario 60 days after Premier Kathleen Wynne's throne speech, on July 3.

An interim board made up of four senior bureaucrats, and based in Thunder Bay, is expected to bring First Nations, the public and private sectors together to create partnerships and facilitate investment decisions in strategic transportation infrastructure for the Ring of Fire.

Those four civil servants are: Bill Thornton, assistant deputy minister for Northern Development and Mines; Rob Dowler, assistant deputy minister with the Cabinet office; Linda McAusland, assistant deputy minister of Transportation.; and Eh-ren Cory, executive vice-president of Infrastructure Ontario.

Gravelle said a fifth representative, from the Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs, could be added to the interim board.

But critics have said the announcement has not resulted in any forward momentum at all regarding the Ring of Fire, a string of chromite deposits expected to be worth $60 billion.

"I am perplexed as to what the actual announcement is here other than to make an announcement for the sake of meeting its 60 day deadline," said NDP Northern Development and Mines critic Michael Man-tha, in a release. "People across this province and in Northern Ontario are facing difficult times and are in need of good full-time jobs. This is just further proof that the Liberal government is unable to manage this file and industry and jobs will continue to leave Ontario if something is not done immediately"

Nipissing MPP Vic Fedeli, the Progressive Conservatives' finance critic, said he was also disappointed with Thursday's announcement.

"Today marks the sixth time in nine months the government has announced the Ring of Fire development corporation," Fedeli said in a statement. "Yet despite that considerable length of time, key industry, First Nations and Ontario Northland still haven't been invited to the table."

Gravelle said the interim board will lay the groundwork for future discussions...

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