I had to look up the meaning of the word “plan” to reassure myself that Quebec’s “Plan Nord” fits “Oxford’s” definition. And, thankfully, it does.
I say “thankfully” because so many government plans we hear and read about are just “schemes” (also part of Oxford’s definition), but in Quebec’s case, I believe “A formulation and detailed method by which a thing is to be done” truly spells out what’s in the works as the Government of Quebec moves ahead with its “Plan Nord” program.
For those of you not too familiar with the program, it’s an $80-billion project designed to open the province’s vast resources located north of the 49th parallel and north of the St. Lawrence River and the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
In a word, it’s an “immense” project that covers 1.2 million km2 and accounts for 72 per cent of Quebec’s geographic area. It’s an area where all of the province’s nickel, cobalt, platinum group metals, zinc, iron ore and ilmenite are found, as well as a significant portion of gold production.
To me, “Plan Nord” will be a game changer and role model for the rest of Canada to follow, because nothing in recent mining history has spelled out what’s needed in terms of sustainable development than what Quebec plans to do for the industry and its people over the next 25 years.
I know a quarter of a century may sound like a long time, but projects like the Mackenzie Valley pipeline project have been “planned” for more than 37 years now and the people in Northwest Territories are still frustrated waiting for that project to happen.
At least in Quebec, people won’t be waiting. Plan Nord will be to future generations what development of La Manicouagan and James Bay were to the 1960s and 1970s.
This time, however, and what impresses me most about this program, is that the focus is on developing a “home grown” generation of people who will regenerate the mining industry in Quebec.
As everyone associated with mining in Canada knows, people going into the industry are in short supply and unlike earlier times, the transfer of skills, and interest, in mining from generation to generation is not there any more.
Through “Plan Nord,” however, and its plan to include 63 towns, villages and communities and link them to the rest of the province by building roads, rail lines, plus maritime and an air transportation infrastructure, all Quebecois will be given a chance to cash in on some of the province’s fortunes.
Roughly 33,000 Aboriginals living in those 63 towns will now see a brighter future thanks to Plan Nord; especially the grade schoolers who will learn more and more about mining as they continue their education.
Again, “Plan Nord” is a win-win program for almost everyone concerned, and I salute the Quebec Government for coming up with an honest “plan,” and not just another government “scheme.”