THUNDER BAY, ON - April 14, 2011 - NOMA OUTLINES CONCERNS WITH FOREST TENURE LEGISLATION - Today, the Northwestern Ontario Municipal Association made a presentation by video conference to the Standing Committee on General Government as part of its review of the Ontario Forest Tenure Modernization Act, 2011 (Bill 151). NOMA is asking for amendments to the Bill that would: limit to two the number of Local Forest Management Corporation pilot models; provide recognition and support for enhanced Shareholder Forest Licenses; and, remove the unacceptable expansion of Government authority to cancel licenses, commitments and supply agreements for any reason without legal recourse or remedy.
In his presentation, President Ron Nelson commented, “NOMA believes that a minimum 5 year trial period that includes the creation of only two Local Forest Management Corporation (LFMC) pilot models, as well as support for enhanced Shareholder Sustainable Forest Licenses (SFLs) would provide an appropriate opportunity for comparison and evaluation and would reduce further uncertainty for producers. We trust that the committee will see the value in what the Minister originally promised and amend Bill 151 before it is sent back to the Legislature for Report Stage and 3rd reading.”
Nelson continued, “We are distressed with the expansion of Government authority for the Minister or the Lieutenant Governor in Council to cancel licenses, commitments and supply agreements for any reason. The changes go even further by removing existing rights of notice and appeal and any legal recourse or remedy if wood is unfairly taken away. These proposals are tantamount to my mortgage holder being provided the authority to take back my house without just cause and without any opportunity for me to appeal that decision. Clearly, such a change to the Mortgages Act would be met with outrage and public demonstrations....yet somehow the Government has decided that applying those practices to our forest producers is tolerable. These changes are absolutely unacceptable and must be removed from Bill 151 immediately.”
NOMA represents the interests of municipalities from Kenora and Rainy River in the west to Hornepayne and Wawa in the east. It provides leadership in advocating regional interests to all orders of government and other organizations.
NAN SAYS ONTARIO DOES NOT TAKE FIRST NATIONS CONCERNS SERIOUSLY IN THE INTRODUCTION OF BILL 151
Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) Grand Chief Stan Beardy says the introduction of Bill 151 – Ontario’s Forest Tenure Modernization Act, largely fails First Nations and is yet another decision unilaterally made in a long string of disrespectful legislation being imposed on First Nations.
“It is very clear that Ontario does not take the concerns of First Nations seriously with regards to the forestry tenure reform process as, yet again, Ontario solicits input, then unilaterally makes decisions without consideration of those who are directly impacted,” said NAN Grand Chief Stan Beardy.
In November 2010, a meeting was held involving NAN, other First Nation leadership, and the Ontario Ministry of Northern Development, Mines and Forestry (MNDMF) to discuss points of concern regarding Ontario’s forestry tenure review process. MNDMF committed to recognizing and addressing three key areas of concern for First Nations:
a) To actively seek input from First Nations and further, recommendations would be developed;
b) To consider other forestry tenure models including community managed forests.
c) Recognition would be given to Aboriginal and Treaty rights, and the duty of the Crown to consult, in whatever legislation which is developed.
MNDMF reneged on commitments made to NAN in the introduction of Bill 151 as it does not contain information on working with First Nations, nor’ gives any recognition to Aboriginal and Treaty rights. In addition, the two new forest tenure models being pursued by MNDMF does not allow for community managed forests and does not allow for the consultation and accommodation of First Nations.
“The best approach is to implement a community forestry tenure system putting First Nations in charge of managing forests on their homelands,” said Beardy. “With the introduction of Bill 151, it is blatantly obvious that Ontario has no intentions of making good on its commitments therefore, it is nearly impossible to work towards a meaningful relationship.”
On Monday April 11, 2011, Beardy made his concerns known once again in a letter sent to MNDMF.
Nishnawbe Aski Nation is a political territorial organization representing 49 First Nation communities in James Bay Treaty No. 9 and Ontario portions of Treaty No. 5 – an area covering two thirds of the province of Ontario.