Northern Ontario Separation Episode on TV Ontario – Stan Sudol

Last week, I had the pleasure of being invited onto TVO’s flagship current affairs program, The Agenda, hosted by Steve Paikin. The topic for the first half-hour segment was about northern Ontario forming a separate province.

As the station’s website states, “TVO is Ontario’s public educational media organization and a trusted source of interactive educational content that informs, inspires, and stimulates curiosity and thought. TVO’s vision is to empower people to be engaged citizens of Ontario through educational media.” The Agenda has been described as a program that “presents in-depth analysis and intelligent debate on issues of concern in the rapidly changing world around us.”

The participants on the five-member panel were:

From Thunder Bay:

  • Rebecca Johnson, City Councilor
  • Livio Di Matteo, Lakehead University Economics Professor

From Sudbury:

  • Rejean Grenier, Editor of Le Voyageur

Toronto TVO Studio:

  • John Beaucage, Union of Ontario Indians Grand Chief
  • Stan Sudol, Communications Consultant, Northern Life Columnist

To view the entire program click below:

Northern Ontario has a long history of individuals advocating for a separate province.

The first person who called for northern separation was Algoma riding MPP Simon James Dawson, in 1875. At the time, the Algoma riding was the only provincial seat in the North. Mr. Dawson was a member of the Liberal Premier Oliver Mowat’s government.

He subsequently went into federal politics and represented the same riding from 1878 to 1891. In a February 18, 1880 House of Commons speech, Mr. Dawson spoke about making northern Ontario a separate province, “Ontario has no means of dealing adequately with these distant territories and whatever policy would lead to their most speedy development would be most in her interest. The true policy in my opinion would be to come to an agreement with Ontario in which the whole of Algoma, including the new territory should be formed into a separate province.”

His dreams were shattered when the entire territory was awarded to Ontario in 1884.

In the late1940s and 1950s, Hubert Limbrick a Thunder Bay alderman and business person advocated that northwestern Ontario should form its own province. When that didn’t work out, he tried to encourage a union between Manitoba and northwestern Ontario, also with no success.

During the 1970s, one of the most influential individuals for northern separation was North Bay businessman Ed Deibel.

He founded the Northern Ontario Heritage Party which was given official certification in 1977 with 10,600 signatures. Although his party never won any seats, he did have a significant impact on Queens Park.

That same year, the Bill Davis Conservative government created a new Ministry of Northern Development and Mines. The new Ministry’s mandate was to address many of the issues Mr. Deibel had previous raised during the past decade.