For immediate release: Tuesday, April 5, 2011
ONTARIO GOVERNMENT REFUSES REQUEST FOR NORTHERN HEARINGS ON BILL 151: MEETINGS ON FOREST TENURE LEGISLATION TO BE HELD IN TORONTO
THUNDER BAY – The Standing Committee on General Government has refused requests from numerous Northern communities and organizations to hold hearings on Bill 151 in Northern Ontario communities and has instead scheduled two days of hearings in Toronto next week.
In a letter to the Committee Chair and Members last week, NOMA wrote, “We understand that there is consideration for holding a single hearing at Queens Park and none in the rest of the province. While such a location will facilitate the large interest groups based in Toronto, it will do nothing to ensure that the people whose lives depend on the forest have an opportunity to present their views directly to the Committee in their home area. On behalf of the Northwestern Ontario communities whose economy depends on a well managed forest, we therefore request that hearings be held in Northwestern Ontario...This way those who will be most impacted by the Bill will have the opportunity to participate in the discussion.”
The decision, which was made during meetings on April 4th, has been met with frustration. “The communities in the Northwest who have suffered so severely from the downturn in the forest sector, deserve to have their voices heard regarding proposed Forest Tenure legislation that will impact their economy,” said NOMA Executive Vice President David Canfield. “Once again we see that this Government is more focused on getting legislation passed than they are on getting it right for the people of Northwestern Ontario.”
Canfield continued, “I am especially disappointed that Chair David Orazietti, MPP for Sault Ste Marie, and Committee member Bill Mauro, MPP for Thunder Bay-Atikokan, did not stand up for their constituents by ensuring that hearings on this vital legislation are held in the North.”
NOMA will be providing a submission to the Committee outlining concerns regarding the legislation; however, it is uncertain whether a representative will be able to attend the Committee meetings due to the short notice and travel involved. NOMA will also be requesting an emergency meeting with the Minister of Northern Development, Mines and Forestry to press their case for changes to the Bill.
NOMA represents the interests of municipalities from Kenora and Rainy River in the west to Hornepayne and Wawa in the east. It provides leadership in advocating regional interests to all orders of government and other organizations.