Ontario now has a Minister responsible for Natural Resources and Forests, Northern Development and Mines, and Aboriginal Affairs.
Premier Doug Ford announced a cabinet shuffle late last week, repositioning many of his government’s responsibilities less than a year before voters returned to the polls.
Kenora-Rainy River MPP Greg Rickford had spent the previous three years as the provincial Minister of Energy, Northern Development, Mines and Aboriginal Affairs. The reshuffle brings him to take charge of the natural resources and forestry portfolio, while transferring the energy file.
Rickford said there was already a lot of work going on between the two departments. natural resources and forests and northern development and mining.
“What we have now can be seen more as an economic portfolio rather than a mere portfolio sometimes seen as a regulatory department,” said Rickford.
âObviously our top priority is to protect the beautiful things we have here in abundance, but to develop our resources responsibly. “
Rickford said that before the reshuffle he often worked with the Department of Natural Resources and Forestry with former minister John Yakabuski.
Files should be separated, ex-minister says
But a former provincial minister who held those posts insisted the posts should be separated.
Thunder Bay-Superior-North MPP Michael Gravelle led natural resources and forestry, as well as northern development and mining issues during the 15-year Liberal government, but never both at the same time. time.
âThe Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry has a strong regulatory framework in terms of obligations,â Gravelle said. “People have to follow the rules when it comes to natural resources, and that can sometimes conflict with some of the economic opportunities that exist.”
Gravelle also argued that the province should have a minister dedicated solely to Indigenous affairs.
âIt’s something that I now think is more important than ever,â he said.
When asked how to reconcile the economic interests of the forestry and mining industries while also being Minister of Indigenous Affairs, Rickford said the key is collaboration.
âWe have demonstrated in a number of key opportunities that were previously issues, especially for Indigenous leaders, on how to work together.
âWe led the communities on the EA process for the Corridor to Prosperity leading to the Ring of Fire. We put the East-West Tie infrastructure in place two years ago and mobilized over 300 trained Indigenous workers on a key energy infrastructure project.
“I don’t see the two as being at odds with each other.”