Ontario Premier Michael Harris was on hand at the “Meet the Miners” reception held in April 2000, to offer his congratulations to the winners of the John T. Ryan Regional Safety Trophy. The Premier’s participation in the event was most welcome, as Mr. Harris knows the importance of mining and the mineral service industry to his home community of North Bay. He engaged in discussions with mining executives about issues such as taxes and electricity rates, safety and environmental concerns.
All Parties Express Positive Views on Mineral Sector
At the OMA’s “Meet the Miners” reception in the Ontario Legislature, it has become traditional for a representative of each main political party to have some time at the microphone. The comments they offer tend to support the OMA’s approach of striving to work constructively with all people elected by voters–government and opposition members.
Nickel Belt MPP Shelley Martel brought greetings on behalf of the NDP Caucus. “I remain conscious of the important economic benefit of the natural resource industries and I remain conscious of the thousands and thousands of people employed directly and indirectly in this industry,” she said. “Public education about why mining is not a sunset industry is important and that is a job that you at the OMA have done very well,” Ms. Martel added.
Mike Brown, MPP for Algoma-Manitoulin, represented the Liberal Caucus at the reception. Mining is a major industry from one end of Mr. Brown’s large riding to the other. “It is nice to meet the people who help provide a great deal of the economic stimulus to this province,” he said. “It is an industry with commitment to employees and communities, and I believe mining can be stronger–it is a technological innovator and adapter.”
It was appropriate that Minister of Northern Development and Mines Tim Hudak representing the Progressive Conservatives should have the last word. He said that the “Mining Millennium 2000 convention gave us the opportunity to showcase Ontario to the world.” Mr. Hudak commented on the fact that in Ontario we have a great deal to boast about–the natural resources of the province and the dedicated people involved in the mining industry. He reviewed the government’s role in helping to promote and encourage the mineral sector by mentioning initiatives to clean up abandoned mine sites and identify new mineral exploration targets.
Lighting the Way
Over the years, the mining industry in Ontario has been fortunate to have had, in most cases, mines ministers who have worked hard to learn about the sector and support it in political circles. The OMA felt that it was time to publicly acknowledge the contributions made by mines ministers over the years.
In preparing for the OMA’s “Meet the Miners” reception at the Legislature, we realized that sitting in the provincial parliament at this time are three former mines ministers–one from each of the three main parties. In order to not let this opportunity pass by, the OMA made special presentations to Sean Conway, former Liberal mines minister from 1987 to 1989, Shelley Martel, former NDP mines minister from 1991 to 1994 and Chris Hodgson, former PC mines minister from 1995 to 1999. Each former mines minister received an engraved brass miner’s lamp.
“A constant island in this sea of [political] change has been the support our industry has received from all three political parties,” said OMA chairman Andy Rickaby. “This support has helped mining weather some very difficult times in the past 10 years, and it is time for our Association to recognize in a small way the significant contribution made by three people who have represented us so ably in the Ontario Cabinet.”
These symbolic gifts were well received; in the spirit of recognizing people who make contributions to the society and economy of Ontario, the OMA was pleased to be able to acknowledge the efforts of these former ministers in a public forum.