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'Our environmental assessments are second to none': Ford

The premier said he was frustrated by Ottawa 'duplicating' studies
Doug Ford PDAC 2020 (2)
Premier Doug Ford at 2020 PDAC mining conference

This article originally appeared on The Trillium, a new Village Media website devoted to covering provincial politics at Queen’s Park.

Premier Doug Ford said he's frustrated by a lack of progress on the Ring of Fire project as the federal government also conducts an environmental assessment in the region.

"What bothers me about the Ring of Fire, they're duplicating environmental assessments," Ontario's premier said, adding that the province's assessments are "headed up by the First Nations community."

"Our environmental assessments are second to none," said the premier, whose government recently excluded a large spa and music venue from an assessment of Ontario Place.

"Folks, the world is watching us right now. The world is watching the Ring of Fire," Ford said, stressing the need to get minerals out of the ground and into electric vehicles.

Ford was speaking with reporters in Winnipeg during the first day of the Council of the Federation (CoF) meeting with the rest of Canada's premiers.

The Ring of Fire project would increase mining in a vast area of the James Bay Lowlands in Northern Ontario in the hope of creating a closed-loop electric vehicle manufacturing process in the province, from raw materials to finished products.

Nine First Nations reside in the region and some have said the province's consultations have not treated them as equal partners. There is now a lawsuit to that effect, which the premier said he is not stressing over.

The federal government has also stressed Indigenous partnership in its assessment.

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Ford also on Tuesday called for the federal government to end the port strike in British Columbia by legislating the employees back to work. 

Federal Labour Minister Seamus O’Regan has repeatedly said the focus should be on the two sides reaching a resolution.

The strike has been going on since Canada Day. The union says it's concerned about automation, contracting out and cost-of-living wage increases.

It's costing Ontario $106 million a day and affecting the supply chain, he said.

"You're going to be going into stores, some of the shelves will be empty," he said.

Ford had an ally on the matter in Alberta Premier Danielle Smith.

"If this was a strike that was taking place in the Port of Montreal, it would be over already," Smith said.

B.C. Premier David Eby said he had a lot of talks with other premiers about the strike. He said he wanted to get it resolved quickly with "a long-term deal that's going to last" and prevent similar strikes in the future. 

Ford's top issue at CoF, he has said, is getting more money from Ottawa to get shovels in the ground faster on infrastructure projects.

His government has started a number of large projects like Highway 413 and the Ontario Line subway extension in Toronto.

Other premmiers "do share my frustrations," he said, though he added again that he has a great relationship with Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc.

The annual Council of the Federation meeting runs from July 10 to 13 at Winnipeg's Fort Garry Hotel.