Progressive allies for big projects
It is in the best interest of Canada and all Canadians that this country get its act together and get its natural resources to market more quickly. But don’t take our word for it. The nation’s two most left-of-centre provincial premiers — Ontario’s Kathleen Wynne and Alberta’s Rachel Notley — have thrown down the gauntlet to the opponents of two vital natural resources projects that are in danger of being stalled or stopped.
Both leaders agree these projects can proceed in a way that is sensitive to the environment and the communities that will be impacted.
Both insist the projects will provide a needed pick-me-up for Canada’s economy, too.
Earlier this month, a clearly impatient Premier Wynne told First Nations communities in Northern Ontario she’s ready to abandon joint talks with them over building roads into the mineral-rich Ring of Fire region.
Her government, she stated in no uncertain terms, is committed to opening the area to mining very soon.
Also earlier in May, Premier Notley warned British Columbia politicians against trying to stop the Trans Mountain pipeline, which would carry Alberta oil to the West Coast and on to international markets.
What gives? Canadians are accustomed to hearing Conservative politicians and business people extol the benefits of such natural resource projects.
But Wynne and Notley are both ardent environmentalists who have championed controversial green policies.
Both leaders have also worked hard to forge stronger bonds with aboriginal communities in their provinces.
In addition to these bona fide progressive credentials, however, both Wynne and Notley realize getting these natural resource projects up and running would not only create jobs and strengthen the economy, it would help fund the government services we all need.
That’s why Wynne told the chiefs of nine Matawa First Nations in Northern Ontario she will tolerate no more delays in her plan to build a road — with $1 billion in provincial funding — into the Ring of Fire region. That’s a tough but timely message. The Ring of Fire is a mining area 500 kilometres north of Thunder Bay that boasts one of the world’s richest deposits of chromite — which is used in stainless steel — as well as nickel, platinum and copper.
The deposits are valued at anywhere from $30 billion to $60 billion.
But delays in getting the highway built into the area and in winning First Nations support for the initiative jeopardize everything. One company already pulled out because of the delays.
Yet if the Ring of Fire were ever opened up, local First Nations would be among its prime economic beneficiaries.
Meanwhile in B.C., the provincial New Democrats and Green Party both want to stop the Trans Mountain pipeline from being built in their province.
Given the uncertain results of the recent B.C. provincial election, they may at the very least hold up pipeline construction, which was due to start later this year and has already won the blessing of the federal Trudeau Liberals.
Wynne and Notley say these ventures can be done properly and should proceed. Both make a strong case. Let’s hope they convince other progressive minds.