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Ambrose in town to 'raise the alarm'

Says Liberals considering ending policies that help junior mining companies raise funds

Interim Conservative Leader Rona Ambrose was in town Monday, speaking to the Sudbury Rotary Club and touring NORCAT.

Ambrose is also here to talk about a Liberal government plan to review sources of funding that are key to junior mining companies. 

"I'm here to raise the alarm, frankly, about the Liberal government's intention of reviewing and potentially cancelling the mineral exploration tax credit and the flow through shares for mineral exploration," she said. 

"This is a huge concern. As you probably know, when we were in government, that was something we renewed in consecutive budgets, because it's very important for the junior mining companies -- which makes up about 60 per cent of mining activity."

Ambrose said maintaining both programs is especially important now, when the mining sector is in a downturn. 

"This sector in particular, just like the oil and gas sector in the West, is hurting -- commodity prices aren't great,” she said. “That affects not just jobs in the direct mineral and mining sector. It also affects service sector jobs, it affects high-tech jobs, it affects everyone who works in this industry."

She said it was the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada who brought the matter to her, and she's been working to build support for them ever since.

"So I came to the region specifically to speak to business people, whether they are directly or indirectly affiliated to mining and mineral exploration," Ambrose said. "I'm here to say we're here to work with you, to make sure we get that message back to the government in Ottawa that this is something that is imperative to this region and imperative to this industry.

"This is a $54 billion industry, just in 2014 alone. And in 2014, 90 per cent of the investments that were invested in junior mining actually were as a result of flow through shares, and the enhancement of the mineral exploration tax credit on top of that. This works, and it's very important for investments."

She said the Liberals are considering it as a way to raise money, but that it would be short-sighted to hamstrung exploration development when the industry needs it most.

"At the end of the day, it's the junior companies that take the risk,” Ambrose said. “And that's why this share vehicle is available to them. It's really benefited the whole country."

While her party will raise the issue in the House of Commons when Parliament reconvenes in the fall, she's hoping businesses people and workers will get active to send the message to Ottawa.

"My message to them was also you need to push it,” she said. “We need businesses to write to their local MP, we need businesses to write to the finance minister, to Prime Minister Trudeau, to explain to him that this isn't about taxing the rich. This is about people who are taking high risk to do the exploration necessary to find the next Sudbury. That's where this all starts."

She accused the Liberals of being against resources development as a matter of philosophy. She pointed to a plan to review how new mines are opened in Canada, a process that could take four years.

"Whether it's the oil and gas sector or it's mineral exploration in Ontario, you have a government that has, right from the get go, said they want to move away from fossil fuels, but they have no actual plan to do that,” Ambrose said. 

"I was at Glencore today and the technology there is unbelievable. It's second to none in in the world, and they're doing it in a sustainable way, in a safe way, creating hundreds, if not thousands of jobs in the region. So as Conservatives, we're here to stand up for the job creators and the people who have jobs in this region. Natural resources projects can be developed in a sustainable way."

Ambrose will spend Tuesday in Sudbury, visiting a women's shelter. She'll also visit Stack Brewing, where she'll promote free trade in beer – and everything else – between provinces.