There still has not been any clear answer from Blaine Pedersen, or any member of the PC Caucus, as to why Thompson is not receiving any assistance from the Province.
Tom Lindsey, who serves as the MLA for Flin Flon, continued to press the Minister of Growth, Enterprise and Trade yesterday during question period as to why Thompson is being denied money from the Mining Community Reserve Fund (MCRF).
Lindsey said that mining communities in the north are looking for leadership from the Pallister Government, and that Thompson needs help now while Flin Flon will need help down the road.
He went on to say since the MCRF was created, multiple governments (including those led by Conservatives) have acknowledged that the funds are for communities facing a situation like Thompson currently is, and that the “hapless” approach by Minister Pedersen is an “affront to cooperation that has persisted in Manitoba for generations”.
Pedersen responded by talking about the recently announced mineral development protocol, rather than answering the questions asked.
Lindsey continued to advocate for Thompson and the rest of northern Manitoba, saying that the only restriction the MCRF has is that it cannot be used for exploration and prospecting if it is under $10M. He then asked why the minister is misrepresenting his own responsibilities under the act and why he is abandoning Thompson in its time of need.
Minister Pedersen opened his response by attacking the previous NDP government, before once again talking about the new protocol, saying that it is the first time that Indigenous communities are actually being consulted.
He did not address the questions that had been asked, and did not even reference the MCRF or Thompson other than saying that “the NDP are always more interested in bailouts than building”, and that the Pallister Government “will continue to build the mining industry across the north, including Thompson”.
The City of Thompson had requested $100k from the MCRF in 2018 to help with economic development, and $1M per year for 2019, 2020 and 2021 to help offset the lower Grant-In-Lieu with Vale that was recently signed.
Former USW 6166 President Les Ellsworth told City Council that Minister Pedersen had told him that the Province was looking for a longer plan, and that the lack of one was the reason Thompson wouldn’t receiving funding. This was a few weeks before Council received a letter from Deputy Minister Dyson, saying that the fund could not be accessed as it was below $10M.
Photo courtesy of the Winnipeg Free Press