THUNDER BAY, ON ----- August 13, 2010 ---- The Honourable Linda Jeffrey, Minister of Natural Resources visited Thunder Bay as part of a visit at the request of Stan Beardy, Grand Chief of N.A.N. Just before her plane left for Toronto she made time for one on one interviews with the press.
She described her visit here as a get acquainted opportunity, and Stan Beardy personally introduced her to many of the Chiefs in our far north regions. Her travels included trips to Muskrat Dam and Martin Falls, all part of getting to know the land and the people and issues she will need to deal with as her ministry prepares Bill 191.
While the wealth of the province may reside in the Southern Ontario, traditionally a big chunk of provincial revenues have traditionally been earned from the resources of the North. Until recently many of the areas of the far Northwestern part of the province have been neglected. There is no infrastructure in much of the area to support a commercial industrial base, and the region is remote. That has changed with the “Ring of Fire” mineral discoveries. Indeed there is enough mineral wealth in this part of the province to pull the entire Ontario economy out of this economic quagmire.
One of the political issues that must be dealt with is the issues of Native Land Claims. These disputes must be resolved before development can occur. For people such as Stan Beardy this is the opportunity of a lifetime to create a future for their young people, and economic opportunities for his people. He has a vested interest in the outcome of bill 191.
The government like the Native population is looking for economic salvation that economic development of this region will bring. There are not many places in the world where a government can open up a new frontier, but that is what is about to happen.
Lastly there are social benefits for us all by providing northern communities with the chance to have a future and to proudly take part in the development of this new Frontier. People with hope and a future will have less need of social services, and will contribute to society. This cannot be a bad thing.
So its nice talking to a politician who is not trying to get elected. She was up here doing her job, learning and listening, meeting and greeting. She says “We are trying to create legislation that works”. For Stan Beardy’s part he was quoted as saying “We no longer have the option of deciding we will work with one another or not. We need to work with each other”.
The concept of sustainable development means that after everyone’s piece of the pie has been cut there is still enough left over to make it worthwhile for business to come in and develop the riches of this new frontier. For Stan Beardy and the people he represents it is the future of his youth at stake. For the province jobs and economic growth are the big carrot.
Negotiations over land issues never end and to this purpose the Honourable Linda Jeffrey plans to make herself available for negations as need be. Its time for legislation that works.