About a year ago, the Northern Ontario Heritage Party was building momentum. NOHP president Ed Deibel was in the midst of getting the party officially registered. Support was growing. Plans were in the works to run NOHP candidates in all 11 Northern Ontario ridings during the provincial election.
Today, however, Deibel is struggling to get candidates. While he says there are three people on the verge of being confirmed as candidates in several ridings — including Cochrane-Temiskaming — as of this writing the Northern Ontario Heritage Party has nobody running.
Zero. Nada. Bupkis. Needless to say, Deibel is disappointed.
“We’re having problems getting candidates. I thought they would be lined up,” he said. “There is no question, by the support and comments we’ve been getting from Northerners, that the people of Northern Ontario are fed up.
“But where’s the action? What are Northerners willing to do?”
A quick check of the NOHP’s website verifies Deibel’s statements. Lots of people, from all corners of Northern Ontario, have been joining in the discussion and expressing their dissatisfaction with the current political setup.
There are complaints about being denied access to Crown land previously enjoyed by Northerners for pastimes such as hunting, fishing and blueberry picking.
People are outraged that resources are being taken from the North for processing elsewhere, thus giving value-added jobs to other jurisdictions.
“They’ve been building the infrastructure to take our natural resources,” he said. “When each tree or ton of ore is gone, it leaves Northern Ontario with a minimum of economic benefit.”
There is no end to the complaints and verbal support for the NOHP. But it hasn’t translated into physical support.
It’s like having a bench full of hockey players, all chirping at the opposition about cheap shots. But no one is willing to hit the ice and drop their gloves.
They are the Vancouver Canucks of provincial politics.
Time is running out for the NOHP. The deadline for them to field candidates is Aug. 2.
While disappointed, Deibel is not yet willing to throw in the towel.
“We’ve been giving out free memberships,” he said. “All people have to do is visit our website, fill out the form and they’re signed up.”
The free membership drive has been on for a week. So far, the NOHP has 12 new members registered.
“We need the workers, the volunteers and the donations to run a campaign,” he said.
“If it wasn’t for my health reasons, I’d have been out their campaigning and running six months ago. This (getting the party registered) was the easiest petition I ever worked on. Everyone, more or less, agrees with the principles that we have to take control of Northern Ontario.”
Deibel is looking for a miracle in the next week, or it is back to Square 1 for the NOHP.
“Under the Ontario elections law, we have to have two candidates running in an election or we’ll be deregistered as a political party. That means we’d have to start all over again, after all the work we’ve done so far.”
For the rest of this column, please go to the Timmins Daily Press website: http://www.thedailypress.ca/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=3229768