Ontario Votes 2014: Timmins James Bay
Q1: How will you incorporate accessibility and the development of a working relationship and communication with First Nations as a part of your riding operations?
Gilles Bisson (NDP): I’ve always maintained a very good relationship with the all the communities on the James Bay, Marten Falls and Constance Lake. Charlie Angus and I have been in your communities numerous times, be it to respond to a community crisis, attend events or help individuals through our community clinics. We will continue to do so.
Steve Black (PC): Thanks to technology, communicating is getting much easier. I always make myself available to my constituents through social media, e-mail and telephone. In fact, how about you visit my Facebook page right now at www.facebook.com/Steven.Black.Timmins. I look forward to answering your questions. Of course, nothing beats a face to face visit, something I’ll do regularly.
Sylvie Fontaine (Liberal): Liberals are committed to partnering with Ontario’s First Nations communities and have done so since forming government in 2003 by creating a stand alone Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs and establishing the Premier’s Annual Meeting with Aboriginal Leaders. As MPP, I want to build relationships with the communities and their Tribal Councils. I recognize that this takes time and effort, and I’m prepared to do just that.
Q2: What is your vision for your riding in terms of social and economic development? How will First Nations be partners in your vision?
Gilles Bisson (NDP): Ontario signed Treaty 9 and Ontario must respect our Treaty. First Nations and Ontario must approach the challenges we face on a government to government basis. This would allow First Nations to have a real say about how we approach mining, forestry and hydro developments. New Democrats believe in sharing the revenue to improve life for everyone in our communities.
Steve Black (PC): My primary goal is to bring good paying jobs to the people of Timmins-James Bay. There are vast riches of undeveloped resources in northern Ontario. It’s important to balance our economic needs with our responsibilities as stewards of the environment. I believe that only through traditional ecological knowledge can we achieve this goal.
Sylvie Fontaine (Liberal): Our northern communities have great potential, but that potential must be shared with all those involved. That’s why the Liberal government formalized our relationship with First Nation communities in the Ring of Fire by making investments into socio-economic development, long-term monitoring of environmental impacts and resource revenue sharing. This must include better education and skills training as well as making our communities safer.
Q3: As First Nations struggle with limited infrastructure investments from the federal government for essential community services, do you feel that the province has a role to play in advocacy on these issues?
Gilles Bisson (NDP): Ontario signed Treaty 9 and an agreement with the federal government to cost share social services. However Ontario states it will not increase its share of First Nations funding unless the federal government does so first. This has led to a huge funding shortfall. It is my position that Ontario should lead by example by properly funding our share first.
Steve Black (PC): Everyone has a bigger role to play to address First Nation struggles. The best way to be heard is to speak with one loud voice. Together, we will make sure that all citizens are treated fairly and equally. We will make it impossible for the government to ignore First Nation concerns.
Sylvie Fontaine (Liberal): The federal government has a constitutional responsibility, but beyond that, a social responsibility to care for all Canadians. While the provincial government can’t fulfill the responsibilities of the federal government, the provincial Liberal government since October 2003, has provided more than $32.2 million to Aboriginal communities through over 118 major and minor capital grants and related feasibility studies. A Liberal government will continue to be leaders and champion First Nations issues at all levels of government.
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