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Bob Rae ring of fire
Mining giant Cliffs Natural Resources' decision to halt work on the largest project in northern Ontario's Ring of Fire region has aroused a sudden interest in the lumbering development. The opposition at Queen's Park pounced to lay blame on the province for the squandered opportunity. While no one denies that Cliffs' move is a game changer, the looming question is whether it's a game ender. Fault will inevitably be assigned: was it that First Nations were "anti-development"? Was the province too slow or too unorganized to act? Or did the miner misjudge how quickly they could put a shovel in the ground? Any attempt to analyze what went wrong, and whether it can be put right, must go far beyond those surface level questions.
You've likely heard about the Ring of Fire boom in Ontario's Far North. What seemed a race to extract chromite, nickel and other minerals from beneath the pristine boreal forest and tundra appears to have slowed to a stroll. The slowdown creates an opportunity in the effort to protect the environment and the rights of First Nations.
I have decided to return to my profession as a lawyer and mediator, to continue working for the Matawa Tribal Council, and to step down as the Member of Parliament for Toronto Centre. This has been a difficult personal decision. I was first elected to Parliament in 1978, and was deeply honoured to have had the chance to serve again these past five years, as well as to lead the Liberal Party at a time of change and renewal. Helping to improve the life of First Nations people has been a long-standing commitment of mine, and this opportunity to serve is one I felt I could not decline.