Evidence of meeting #27 for Natural Resources in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was going.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Wes Hanson  President and Chief Executive Officer, Noront Resources Ltd.
  • Kirk McKinnon  President and Chief Executive Officer, MacDonald Mines Exploration Ltd.
  • Ian Brodie-Brown  President and Chief Executive Officer, AurCrest Gold Inc.
  • Elijah Moonias  Marten Falls First Nation
  • David Kilgour  Councillor, City of Greater Sudbury

9:40 a.m.

NDP

Claude Gravelle Nickel Belt, ON

Thank you.

Now—

9:40 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Leon Benoit

Thank you, Mr. Gravelle.

Your time is up.

9:40 a.m.

NDP

Claude Gravelle Nickel Belt, ON

Is my time up already?

9:40 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Leon Benoit

Time flies when you're having fun. You know that.

Mr. McGuinty, you have up to seven minutes.

Go ahead, please.

February 16th, 2012 / 9:40 a.m.

Liberal

David McGuinty Ottawa South, ON

Thank you, Chair.

In Tuesday's testimony, we heard very different perspectives from private sector actors and from our first nations representatives.

Again today, Mr. Hanson, I hear you speak, and it's all hands on board, we're moving forward, we're in third gear, and we're making our application for environmental assessment. Chief Moonias turns to us and says that he doesn't have an IBA with you, that he was compensated for holes that were bored or drilled in his territory, but nothing's going to happen and that this is in court, so as they say in French,

who is telling the truth?

I'm reminded of the time I was training new Russian officers after the wall fell and the Soviet Union had to negotiate. A very bright Russian executive said to me, “Well, when you're negotiating with a mining company who is a foreign direct investor and you just don't think you can get any more, and your negotiator comes back and tells you there's just no more to be had, what do you do?” I looked at the young executive and said, “Well, the golden rule of negotiation is that you change negotiators and start again.”

Here we have a situation in which the first nations people are saying they're not moving forward without a joint review panel. Mr. Brodie-Brown has, I think properly, testified that we have to take these agreements to the next generation, which is equity participation.

What's going on here? What are we supposed to do? We've heard a couple of practical recommendations from Mr. McKinnon in terms of the federal role. You say we're moving forward and that this is happening, but the chief says it's going nowhere until this issue is resolved. What's happening here?

Maybe we can start with you, Mr. Hanson.

9:45 a.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Noront Resources Ltd.

Wes Hanson

I understand the confusion. We are moving forward—I mean the company. That's what we have to do in order to survive. That's not to say that we're moving forward and we're going to trample the human rights of the aboriginal peoples in the Ring of Fire. We want to negotiate with them, but I think that desire has to be reciprocated. They have to want to negotiate with us. It has been extraordinarily difficult.

Noront has had a great deal of success in working directly with a number of the communities in the Ring of Fire, including Marten Falls. We hope to continue to build on that relationship.

It's unfair to ask Noront to enter into an IBA negotiation until we really understand the true value of what it is we propose to develop. We'll have that in March or April. Then we'll be approaching the chief and his councillors, and not just those of Marten Falls but the other communities in the Ring of Fire as well. We'll be approaching the communities directly, not an umbrella organization, and start to negotiate IBAs with those communities based on the value of the deposit.

9:45 a.m.

Liberal

David McGuinty Ottawa South, ON

Let me ask you a question, and perhaps Mr. McKinnon as well. It's the question I put to Cliffs Natural Resources on Tuesday. Are your companies prepared to enter into equity participation agreements with first nations people?

9:45 a.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Noront Resources Ltd.

Wes Hanson

If you want, I'll go first, or—

9:45 a.m.

Liberal

David McGuinty Ottawa South, ON

Have you done it before? Have you actually entered into an equity arrangement with first nations people anywhere in the world?

9:45 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Leon Benoit

Go ahead, Mr. McKinnon.

9:45 a.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, MacDonald Mines Exploration Ltd.

Kirk McKinnon

Are you asking me?

9:45 a.m.

Liberal

David McGuinty Ottawa South, ON

The question is to both of you, please.

9:45 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Leon Benoit

Go ahead, Mr. McKinnon.

9:45 a.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, MacDonald Mines Exploration Ltd.

Kirk McKinnon

The answer is no.

Mr. McGuinty, I think we're putting the cart before the horse here. We're carving up pies that we don't have. I humbly submit that this James Bay activity is not moving forward unless Cliffs gets in the game—that's number one—and, in my subjective opinion, until there are more discoveries. The critical mass required to make James Bay go is borderline right now. The opportunity—

9:45 a.m.

Liberal

David McGuinty Ottawa South, ON

Mr. McKinnon, if we can we step back for a second—