Written by Rocco Frangione

The NDP’s John Vanthof of Timiskaming-Cochrane has some cautionary advice for the Ford government as it prepares to review the Far North Act.

The MPP is asking the Tories to ensure they include First Nations during the review as the provincial government looks at repealing the Act.

Vanthof welcomes the review calling it a “good thing”.

He says when the legislation was passed years ago by the McGuinty Liberals it was opposed by northern communities and First Nation leaders, because it prohibited developing the most northern reaches of the province.

“The First Nations saw the Act as an attack on their jurisdiction and anything that replaces it, if it doesn’t have First Nation as partners, it’s not going to be any more effective than the Far North Act,” Vanthof said.

Vanthof says whatever replaces the existing Act has to be profitable and economically viable for all Ontarians for it to work.

He says the government has to work with the people who live in the far north now and that’s the remote First Nations.

Although Vanthof welcomes the review, he found it odd that details of the announcement saw the Tories tie the Far North Act to the Ring of Fire.

There’s a perception that somehow the Act got in the way of the Ring of Fire.

“But it’s never been an issue to the best of my knowledge,” Vanthof said.

“The issue with the Ring of Fire was one of economics and not yet forging agreements with the First Nations.  If the Tories think that repealing the Far North Act and ignoring First Nations is going to get the Ring of Fire built any faster, they’re sadly mistaken.”

John Vanthof, Cochrane-Timiskaming MPP (NDP)

Vanthof said he was guessing that somehow because people, especially northerners, are aware of the Ring of Fire, the Tories believe they’ll have an easier time repealing the Act if it’s tied to the Ring of Fire debate.

He says the two are not part of the same debate, but the Tories are trying to make them a single issue.

The province has given the public until April 11th to provide input on its proposal to repeal the Far North Act.

The invitation for public comment includes Indigenous communities, groups, business and other stakeholders on how to develop the far north.

Go to https://ero.ontario.ca/notice/013-4734 for details on how to comment on the existing legislation.