Hampton slams ‘Smarth Growth’ panel

NDP leader and local MPP Howard Hampton said today he is both shocked and concerned the “Smart Growth” panel for Northwestern Ontario has no representation from either Treaty 3 or Nishnawbe-Aski Nation (NAN) First Nations.
“At a time when we are facing a wood supply gap across Northwestern Ontario and when the provincial government is trying to access timber from NAN territory north of 51 latitude, it is unbelievable that there are no representatives from Treaty 3 or NAN First Nations on the so-called ‘Smart Growth’ panel,” Hampton said in a press release.
“If the Conservative government is trying to send a message that aboriginal people have no place in Northwestern Ontario’s economy, then they have certainly sent that message loud and clear with this announcement,” he charged.
As reported in Monday’s Daily Bulletin, Mayor Glenn Witherspoon was named chair of the “Smarth Growth” panel for the Northwestern zone.
The 11 other panel members include Kenora Mayor Dave Canfield, Dryden Mayor Sid Wintle, Thunder Bay Mayor Ken Boschoff, Marathon Mayor Pat Richardson, and Mary MacKenzie, clerk and director of corporate and planning services for Sioux Lookout
Harold Wilson (executive director of the Northwest Ontario Development Network), Donald S. Bubar (president and CEO of Avalon Ventures Ltd.), Patricia Lang (president of Confederation College), Mike Shusterman (president of the Nipigon Chamber of Commerce), Sandy Dickson (president of the Fish and Wildlife Advisory Board), and Lorne Crawford (Northwestern Strategies Inc.) round out the panel.
Hampton said everyone in Northwestern Ontario needs to recognize there is a 25-year wood supply gap facing the forest industry across the region.
“Forests harvested 50 and 60 years ago are growing but generally will not be mature enough for another 25 years. Meanwhile, the mature forests that is available south of 51 is quickly being depleted,” said Hampton.
“If pulp and paper mills and sawmills in the northwest are to have sufficient spruce and jack-pine timber over the next 25 years, they will have to access the forests north of Latitude 51 in NAN First Nation’s territory.
“In this context, it’s unbelievable that the Conservative government has no NAN or Treaty 3 First Nation representatives on the so-called ‘Smart Growth’ panel that is supposed to look at economic development over the next 15-30 years,” he argued.
“If we are going to continue to prosper in Northwestern Ontario together, this strategy of excluding First Nations is just the wrong way to go,” Hampton stressed.
Hampton also said there is significant mineral potential north of 51, and that a number of mining exploration and mining development companies have expressed interest in exploration and development of these mineral deposits.
“Treaty 3 and NAN First Nations are not opposed to forest and mining development but these First Nations want to ensure they have an equal say in development and an equal share in the benefits,” Hampton said.
“The failure to include Treaty 3 or NAN representatives is like sending a message to native people, you’re not included.”