McGuinty headed out his ‘Open’ door – by John R. Hunt (North Bay Nugget – 2010)

The North Bay Nugget, established in 1907, is the daily newspaper for the northeastern Ontario community of North Bay. This column was originally published in 2010.

On the Rocks Column

Michael Gravelle’s recent trip to Timmins has convinced me that Ontario is on the verge of another political convulsion. It also reinforced my long-held conviction there is a grand plan in Toronto to close down as much of the North as possible and turn it into a park.

Gravelle is minister of Northern Development and Mines. Folk in Timmins may be forgiven if they think he is in charge of destruction and evacuation. I heard nothing in the throne speech Monday afternoon to change my mind. The Grits have high hopes for a mining development in the Northwest. The Northeast can be safely forgotten.

The McGuinty mob’s Open Ontario policy or gimmick only reflected its intellectual bankruptcy. Or perhaps it was designed by Ontario’s intellectual and cultural elite who refuse to recognize that 90% of Ontario is in what is called the North. They rarely visit it, never understand it, and view it and its residents with amused contempt.

Ontario is ripe for the same kind of convulsion that tossed the Tories out after 40 years of dark blue rule.

The Peterson pack were so surprised to be elected they provided a sloppy government that tried to please everyone.

Bob Rae surprised everyone including himself when he brought the socialist hordes to Queen’s Park.

He tried to unite the province by being eminently reasonable and was savaged, most of all by the NDP’s union supporters.

Now a Liberal at Ottawa, one reason he spends so much time on his feet may be that the bites he suffered as premier have never healed.

Then came Mike Harris — the Northern slasher. He took Ontario by its debt-ridden neck and shook it up. He hurt many people but he left a legacy. Voters no longer accept deficits and debt as normal. They know they or their children will have to pay.

Gravelle’s Timmins trip just before the throne speech showed how gutless and out of touch the McGuinty bunch has become.

He bleated how sorry he is that Timmins will lose its smelter and hundreds of jobs. He went to all the right places and apparently said nothing of consequence. It is not all his fault.

The Ottawa neo-cons sold the Kidd Creek mine to Swiss paper shufflers and Sudbury’s Inco to Brazilian go-getters. The deals’ details might upset Canadian sensibilities and cannot be revealed to taxpayers.

But Ontario could have accepted the NDP idea of requiring Ontario ore to be processed in Ontario. This might have trampled on its questionable deal that allows Ontario to process only 10% of the diamonds from a new diamond mine.

Instead the McGuinty government will allow Kidd Creek’s incredible riches to be shipped to a Noranda smelter and Timmins faces economic devastation.

Gravelle seems to have acquired all the intellectual arrogance so typical of the Toronto elite. Perhaps assuming that all Northerners are mentally challenged, he held up the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund as Timmins’ potential saviour.

Come off it. This is humbug. Will the Heritage fund find another Kidd Creek? Will it rebuild the smelter after the Swiss sell it for scrap?

Gravelle did admit that in his own riding in Northwestern Ontario communities based on forestry are suffering. This apparently implies that the suffering must be shared and Timmins’ folk should take their lumps and shut up.

In the Ontario throne speech there was a reference to a chromite mine in the Northwest.

McGuinty is very excited about it. It is in something called the Ring of Fire.

This should fascinate suburban housewives. They will put down their cookie cutters and chat about it at the next meeting of the Home and School. Chromite is a rare mineral and no doubt the deposit will make some jobs. McGuinty seems to have forgotten that Northern Ontario also produces gold, silver, copper, nickel and much else. The people who mine this stuff only number a few hundred thousand and in the political scheme of things do not matter much.

In due course the Ontario government may be able to make deals with Swiss, Brazilian or Ruritarian companies and arrange for it all to be shipped out of province as part of the new Open Ontario program.

One funny aspect of the Timmins tragedy is that according to reports, the government-owned ONR will haul the stuff to Noranda. Down the road some Liberal hack will announce it is all part of a long-range plan to help North Bay.

Much of the North, particularly Timmins, is an NDP stronghold. This has always bothered Queen’s Park and over the years may explain many happenings.

For the rest of this column, please go to the North Bay Nugget website: