LETTERS TO THE EDITOR — Mines minister replies to government criticism

The Commentary article by Steve Parry (“Liberal promises not kept,” T.N.M., April 17/95) contains several inaccuracies. I would like to set the record straight.

At the outset, the overriding priority in the February budget was to get our fiscal house in order. Meeting our deficit targets required tough fiscal measures and there were no budget incentives for anybody. This government believes that by improving our fiscal situation, we will encourage investment and job creation in Canada, and that this will directly benefit the mining industry.

The budget of the Geological Survey of Canada (GSC) will be reduced by 32% during the next three years, not the 50% reported in the article. GSC is committed to maintaining its close relationship with the Vancouver geoscience community. Through close collaboration with the province and industry, we are confident we will ensure high-quality geological research programs and service to our clients at reduced costs.

Contrary to the suggestion that the federal government has no “plan” for mining in Canada, the Liberal Party developed the Liberal Mining Agenda, and the government is committed to implementing that agenda. Let me outline what we have done:

* This government signed the multi-stakeholder Whitehorse Mining Initiative (WMI) Accord and established a ministerial advisory committee on WMI implementation;

* To maintain the national focus on mining created by the WMI, the government will proclaim the second week of May as National Mining Week; * The government is removing impediments to mineral investment through the “building a more innovative economy” initiative. Mining was one of six industrial sectors chosen for regulatory improvement;

* In the 1994 budget, this government provided up-front deductions for contributions to qualified mine reclamation trust funds;

* The government actively promotes Canada’s mineral industry abroad. Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) sponsors mineral investment promotion seminars in Europe and Asia. To encourage investment in Canada, I addressed delegates at the international Investing in the Americas conference in Miami in March; * To reduce overlap and duplication, and increase certainty in the environmental assessment process, the government has signed harmonization agreements on environmental assessment with Alberta and Manitoba; * The Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment has released, for public consultation, a national approach to environmental assessment in Canada. The goal is a single-window approach, which is consistent with both the Liberal Mining Agenda and the goals of WMI;

* NRCan has prepared a discussion document on the sustainable development of minerals and metals, which will soon be released for public consultation; * To meet the mining industry’s human resource requirements, the government is providing startup funding and is working with industry to establish the Mining Industry Training and Adjustment Council;

* The Canada Centre for Mineral and Energy Technology continues to join in research responsive to the needs of the industry (for example, Mine Environment Neutral Drainage and Aquatic Effects Technology Evaluation programs).

The government is determined to ensure that mining continues to [develop] Canadian jobs and economic growth. Our policies and action support a prosperous mining sector committed to sustainable development.

We have made progress in meeting our commitments to the mining industry. I will continue to be a strong voice for the mining industry within government and to keep mining high on the government’s policy agenda.

A. Anne McLellan


Natural Resources Canada




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