Many northerners are hopeful now that the Natural Resources portfolio is once again in the hands of a northwestern Ontario MPP with the appointment of Bill Mauro as Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry.
Mauro was sworn in Tuesday as part of Premier Kathleen Wynne's new cabinet.
“We're particularly pleased with Bill's appointment, and, Bill gets it,” said Glenn Rivard, president of the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters.
Rivard said it’s best when the natural resources portfolio is handled by a northern minister. However, he doesn’t agree on existing rules governing hunting tags for moose, issued by the MNR.
“This year we experienced a large cut in moose tags due to some problems within the moose population, and we've had discussions with Bill about that,” he said.
John Kaplanis, executive director of the Northwestern Ontario Sportsmen's Alliance, is also pleased with Mauro's appointment, saying that he is also looking for Mauro to help change how the moose population is managed by the province.
Kaplanis said Mauro is taking over a ministry facing serious financial pressures.
“I'm sure that Minister Mauro is going to discover that there will be a few issues that he may not be very popular on when he makes decisions on them.”
Chiefs of Ontario concerned about 'conflicts on the ground'
While pleased with Mauro’s appointment, Regional Chief of Ontario Stan Beardy said there are many outstanding issues he plans to take up with the new minister soon, the most important being meaningful participation for First Nation in forestry decisions.
An ongoing dispute over logging at Grassy Narrows spotlights the need to work together, according to Beardy.
“We cannot continue to have conflicts on the ground, we have to find a way with the Ontario government to make sure that our people want the environment which is our home is protected as much as possible,” he said.
Beardy added he is also looking for agreements that will provide employment for First Nations people.
"I think it's exciting, I think a lot of people in our neck of the woods certainly view this very much as a northern ministry, and I think they'll be, hopefully, they'll be excited, I hope, to have a northern member in the ministry again, " Mauro said after the swearing in on Tuesday.