Greens demand a Sustainable Development Plan for the North to maximize benefits from the Ring of Fire

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(SUDBURY) The Green Party of Ontario is calling for a meaningful and comprehensive made in Northern Ontario Sustainable Development Plan before proceeding with mining in the Ring of Fire.

“The McGuinty government must engage Northern Ontarians in creating a plan for sustainable development that maximizes economic benefits for northern communities,” says GPO leader Mike Schreiner. “The Liberals have failed to ensure the Ring of Fire will benefit First Nations and to answer questions about the health and environmental impacts.”

The Ring of Fire is located approximately 500 km northeast of Thunder Bay, in the James Bay lowlands. It could be one of the largest developments in Ontario’s history with significant economic opportunities and environmental impacts.

“The government’s job is to ensure that the Ring of Fire benefits all Northerners, especially First Nations,” says Pat Rogerson, GPO critic for Northern Development, Mines & Forestry and recent candidate in Sudbury. “With one chance to do it right, we must take the time to have all stakeholders in the North at the table to manage the risks of development and to enjoy its benefits.”

The GPO believes the McGuinty government must address three areas before developing the Ring of Fire: 1) a Sustainable Development Plan that maximizes economic benefits while protecting health and the environment; 2) First Nations involvement, consent and partnership in development; 3) all value-added processing is done in Northern communities.

“It’s unacceptable that the Liberals are negotiating backroom deals on electricity pricing, and there is talk of building a 30 MW diesel plant,” says Schreiner. “We should be utilizing northern renewables such as hydro and building infrastructure that can also power First Nations communities.”

The GPO wants the government to ensure the Ring of Fire is developed in a fiscally and environmentally responsible manner that takes into account First Nations interests.

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