Forest tenure consultations scheduled only for Toronto, far from Ontario’s northern forests
The citizens of Northern Ontario are disgusted that the consultations for Bill 151, the Forest Tenure Modernization Act, will take place only in Toronto.
“We didn’t have any input into the City of Toronto Act and that’s how stupid this is,” Kenora Mayor Dave Canfield said. “Not to have hearings in the Northwest and Northeast? Why are we treated like apartheid, for God’s sake? This is bizarre.”
Progressive Conservative Party critic for Northern Development, Mining and Forestry, Randy Hillier, filibustered the General Government Committee Thursday to protest the cancelling of the Northern Ontario consultation dates.
“The government has been seized with fear at the prospect of facing down people in communities like Sioux Lookout and Iroquois Falls, places where their forestry agenda has cost jobs and livelihoods,” he said in a release. “They prefer to stay cloistered in Toronto, close to their environmental lobbyist friends.”
Howard Hampton, the MPP for Kenora-Rainy River, has praised Hillier for blowing the whistle. Hampton said the act, as written, will permanently open Ontario’s forests to international competition under its North American Free Trade Agreement and the World Trade Organization commitments.
Once that irreversible decision is made, Hampton foresees the full-scale privatization of forest management beginning with 1,400 lost jobs this year in the Ministry of Natural Resources and increasing raw wood exports, as has occurred in British Columbia.
“This is not minor legislation. This is not tinkering. This will fundamentally change who can get access to forest resources and who can’t,” Hampton said. “One of the biggest things it will do is put our Crown forests up for sale to the highest bidder. the government is trying to deny this but significant parts of the Crown forest will be put up for bid and who can’t say who can bid.”
Forest Tenure hearings to be held in Toronto – Canfield terms Northern exclusion ‘apartheid’ (Kenora Miner & News)
View the proposed Ontario Bill 151 – the Forest Tenure Modernization Act
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