Nipissing MPP Vic Fedeli says it’s disturbing that the federal budget contains nothing about the Ring of Fire. And he adds what’s also disturbing is the silence from the Ontario Liberals. Fedeli says if this was former Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s budget, Ontario’s finance minister would be all over him for ignoring the Ring of Fire. But Fedeli says because this is a budget from Justin Trudeau, the Ontario Liberals are “playing nice” with their federal counterparts. Fedeli says year after year the Ontario Liberals have said they’ll commit $1 billion to the project if the feds do the same. But the Tory MPP is worried that the silence from the feds this year gives the Wynne Liberals a way to back out of the supporting the project.
Fedeli is becoming more worried that both governments aren’t committed to the Ring of Fire. And he’s not buying the position from Nickel Belt Liberal MP Marc Serre that the federal government needs a plan from the Ontario Liberals before his colleagues say specifically how they can help. Fedeli says all that’s required of the federal government is to put a time limit on funding. He says the feds can announce a certain amount of money for a limited time that the province can leverage toward the Ring of Fire. “It’s a use it or lose it scenario,” Fedeli says. “This would put a permanency to the project”. Fedeli says although the chromite and other metals are found in a remote part of Northern Ontario, this is not just an issue that benefits the north. He says it also involves Toronto. When the project seemed ready to go, Fedeli says one of the largest players at the Ring of Fire spent $50-million a year with a Toronto engineering firm. “This affects, law firms in Toronto, accounting firms and engineering offices,” he said. Shortly after taking office, Fedeli visited the Ring of Fire and said there were 250 employees at the site. “Now you have five men who serve as caretakers,” he said. “It’s a decade since the Ring of Fire was announced and nothing has happened”. The Tory finance critic says it will be interesting to see how or if the Wynne Liberals address the Ring of Fire in their spring budget.