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Grits have 'abandoned' Ring of Fire, opposition says

But Thibeault says nothing has changed, despite omission from budget
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ringoffire
Touted five years ago as a $60 billion asset that would create jobs across the North, the Liberals promised to commit $1 billion for infrastructure for the project during the 2014 election campaign. Since then, there hasn't been much news on the massive chromite project, and even less mention in the budget. (Supplied)

At one time it was almost in the news every week, but when the provincial Liberals released their budget April 27, there was nary a word about the Ring of Fire.

Touted five years ago as a $60 billion asset that would create jobs across the North, the Liberals promised to commit $1 billion for infrastructure for the project during the 2014 election campaign.

Since then, there hasn't been much news on the massive chromite project, and even less mention in the budget.

“Not one word in 294 (budget) pages about the Ring of Fire,” is how NDP Nickel Belt MPP France Gélinas put it this week.

She also pointed to budget cuts at the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines, as did Nipissing PC MP Vic Fedeli. 

"After three years of promises, the Wynne government has completely abandoned this critical mining project,” Fedeli said about the budget. 

“Even with an extra $5 billion of one-time funds, the Liberal government has still found a way to leave the people of rural and Northern Ontario with less. This is shocking and disappointing to Northerners. This government should be ashamed.”

But Energy Minister and Sudbury MPP Glenn Thibeault said the Ring may be gone from the budget, but it's not forgotten.

"Absolutely nothing has changed,” Thibeault said. “I know the Opposition members from Northern Ontario are all running around with their hair on fire saying there's nothing in there for the Ring of Fire.

"Even though it's not explicitly mentioned in the budget, it's still there. We've got a lot invested in this, we want to make sure that this happens. But we do have to do our duty to consult with our First Nations."

Northern Development Minister Michael Gravelle has been on leave, but Thibeault said he was making progress before he left. Better to take longer and get it right, he added.

"We also need to do our due diligence,” Thibeault said. “We all want to see this happen as quickly as possible, we are continuing to see strides made in terms of negotiations, in terms of making sure that the investments are there from the private sector.

"So we have not changed. We are solely committed to making sure that we can get the Ring of Fire up and running ... We're going to get closer and closer on this."



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