NDP ready to deliver the goods

Last week, I travelled with NDP leader Tom Mulcair and several other NDP MPs to the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada’s annual convention in Toronto.
It was a great event, where we spoke with a variety of companies and groups, as well as promoted our plan for the mining sector.
I was very happy to be able to travel with Tom, as well as Carol Hughes (Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing), Charlie Angus (Timmins-James Bay), and our party’s critic for the mining sector, Claude Gravelle (Nickel Belt), to the PDAC convention, which is one of the largest mining industry gatherings of the year.
We spent our time talking with company executives and their research and communications staff, as well First Nations’ leaders and the media, to figure out where the mining sector in Canada is—and what a federal NDP government could do to assist the industry and communities build a more profitable and sustainable future.
While we were at the event, the federal government finally made an announcement about the “Ring of Fire.”
Natural Resource minister Greg Rickford, who also serves as the MP for most of the area the “Ring of Fire” encompasses, unveiled and greatly hyped a funding announcement during the first weekend of the event.
But it was not the announcement we all expected. What our delegation expected was a firm federal commitment for funding the development of infrastructure in and around the “Ring of Fire” mining project and a dollar figure attached (and likely one in the $1-billion range at that).
Instead, the big announcement was $393,814 in federal funding for an environmental assessment for a proposed road.
This assessment, which was proposed by three First Nation communities located in and around the “Ring of Fire” development, is important. But the paltry amount of federal support to date is something to be critical of.
I would like to congratulate the Eabametoong, Neskantaga, and Nibinamik First Nations for the success of their proposal. And I recognize that in order to build a road, you first must figure out whether or not it is economically and environmentally feasible.
With that being said, the federal government has failed this development and these communities by refusing to indicate how much they are willing to contribute overall to this massive infrastructure project, and when they could make that funding available.
To date, all we have seen so far is a $393,814 cheque to study the construction of a road when what the $50-billion mining project really needs a federal partner that can offer certainty, leadership, and action.
You may be asking yourself what an NDP government may do differently, which you should, so let me explain major parts of our plan to assist the mining sector in Canada.
When Tom gave a key lunchtime speech at the PDAC convention, he outlined several planks of our election platform which will directly assist the mining sector.
An Innovation Tax Credit, reducing the small business tax rate, and extending the accelerated capital cost allowance for machinery are all part of the NDP plan.
These measures will support the small businesses and contractors that are the backbones of mining communities, and help mining companies hurt by the Conservatives’ cuts to support for capital intensive R&D.
As the election campaign draws closer, you also can expect to hear a firm dollar commitment from Tom and the NDP on the development of the infrastructure for the “Ring of Fire,” which is something the federal Conservatives have failed to provide for the entire decade that they have been in power.
In our efforts to further expand and expedite the “Ring of Fire” project, Tom also has called upon former Ontario NDP leader and MPP for Kenora-Rainy River, Howard Hampton, to share his expertise and to help us get things going.
Since 2005, this Conservative government has squandered every opportunity to become an active and engaged partner with industry and the First Nation communities that lay within the “Ring of Fire.”
It’s time for a new government to offer this project and these communities certainty, leadership, and action.
Tom Mulcair and Canada’s New Democrats are ready to step up to the plate and deliver the goods.