By: The Globe and Mail
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau heads to northern Ontario today as he continues to talk up his government’s infrastructure spending plans.
Trudeau is expected to make an announcement in Liberal-friendly Sudbury, where city officials have been hoping for federal funding to match a $26.7-million Ontario government commitment to an $80-million road construction project.
Sudbury was among the first stops Trudeau made as last year’s federal election campaign was ramping up, during which he made promises that included $20- million for the mining and forest sectors.
His government’s first budget last month included $87.2-million for a wide range of research projects in forestry, mining and minerals, earth sciences and mapping, and innovation in energy technology.
But the budget has been criticized by some — including some of the Liberal government’s own members, sources say — for a lack of support for the forestry sector.
While mining and other resource companies haven’t garnered the national headlines the oil sector has been capturing of late, the sluggish international economy and a collapse in commodity prices has also left them reeling.
During last year’s election campaign, Trudeau also promised to work with the Ontario government to bring resources to market from a vast stretch of territory known as the Ring of Fire — a region once dubbed by former federal Conservative cabinet minister Tony Clement as the oilsands of Ontario.
Sudbury has been tabbed as a possible home for a smelter to process chromite from the Ring of Fire, but resource development in the region has been hampered by negotiations between the Ontario government and First Nations over education, training, jobs and environmental concerns.
On Friday, Trudeau is expected to visit Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., where the biggest employer in town — Essar Steel Algoma — has been under bankruptcy protection since last fall.