Two MPPs next door to each other’s riding have opposing viewpoints on whether or not First Nations are mentioned in the Ford government’s fall economic statement.

John Vanthof, the New Democrat who represents Timiskaming-Cochrane, says the document fails to mention Indigenous people.

Vanthof says he’s willing to give the Progressive Conservative government the benefit of the doubt over the Ring of Fire because it committed to getting it started before their first term is over.

“But I’m a bit concerned in the economic statement when they talk about the Ring of Fire and they did not mention First Nations at all,” Vanthof said.

“I’m very concerned that if the Ford government tries to get (it) going without cooperation from First Nations, we might never get to the Ring of Fire.”

Vanthof says the economic statement states the government will “talk with willing partners” without mentioning First Nations.

He adds if he was an Indigenous person, that wording would be sounding warning bells for him

“If you want to get to the Ring of Fire without the people who are already there, bad things could happen,” Vanthof said.

Nipissing MPP Vic Fedeli. Photo credit: Supplied

However, Nipissing MPP Vic Fedeli, who read the economic statement in the Legislature in his capacity as Finance Minister, says First Nations are mentioned“many, many times”.

“I wrote the economic statement so I know how frequently we talked about Northern Ontario and our First Nation partners,” Fedeli said.

Fedeli says the Ford government is encouraging revenue resources sharing between the north and First Nations.

“We’re also talking about addressing the delays with the Ring of Fire by talking directly with First Nation partners,” Fedeli said.

“That’s what I wrote in the fall economic statement.”