03/11/2013 03:40 EDT | Updated 05/11/2013 05:12 EDT

Bob Rae calls for development partnerships with First Nations

Bob Rae is keeping a close eye on Ring of Fire revenue talks between the province and the Matawa First Nations.

The federal interim Liberal leader is thinking about wading into the ongoing mining negotiations between First Nations and the province when he steps down as leader.

During an interview on CBC Thunder Bay's Superior Morning program on Monday, he echoed FedNor Minister Tony Clement's sentiment of last week, calling for development partnerships with First Nations.

"There has to be a discussion about jobs and work, and just generally speaking increasing the capacity of all the communities that are surrounding the Ring of Fire that will be involved and affected by it, and make sure that they're not left out by the development," Rae said.

Matawa First Nations want Rae to act as their negotiator in talks with the province. Rae said he's considering the role.

"Exactly what my role could be, I think depends a lot on those discussions which should be taking place over the next few weeks."

Talking about 'challenges'

During his stay in Thunder Bay, Rae spoke to the city's Chamber of Commerce about economic challenges and opportunities in the region.

"I know the community's been through some tough economic challenges," he said.

"Certainly back in the days when I was premier we had our challenges, but we got through them OK. I'm particularly interested in talking to the [Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce] about some of the opportunities and some of the challenges."

Rae also toured the Bombardier plant and was scheduled to wrap up the day with a Liberal fundraiser.

"It's part of my job as the interim leader to help in any way I can to keep the profile of the party up as we head into the leadership race," he said.

He spent the weekend in Sudbury and Elliot Lake and, on Tuesday, Rae is expected to head to Dryden and Kenora.

The Liberal party's new leader will be chosen in April.