Don’t blame NDP [for northern alienation]: Horwath – by Ron Grech (The Timmins Daily Press – July 30, 2011)

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Leader says fault of unsympathetic government lies with ruling parties

If Northerners feel alienated by Queen’s Park, don’t blame the New Democrats, says Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath.

“The reality is that we have had a majority Liberal government for two terms now that has really done nothing to make Northern communities strong again and to make sure Northerners have more control over their future,” said Horwath, during a brief stopover at the Timmins airport while on her way to Kirkland Lake Friday morning.

The message coming out of local Progressive Conservative and Liberal camps this week was that the concerns of Timmins-James Bay are being ignored by the provincial government because voters here keep re-electing an NDP representative, not a member of the ruling government.

“I don’t think that is the case at all,” Horwath replied when The Daily Press presented those views to the NDP leader. “As a matter of fact, it is up to government to make sure we have a strong Northern part of the province and the Liberals have not done that, notwithstanding how many MPPs they have that are Liberal from Northern Ontario.”

MPP Gilles Bisson (NDP — Timmins-James Bay), who accompanied Horwath during her tour of local communities on Friday, said his riding has not been short-changed in government funding despite having an NDP representative.

“We have done well when it comes to money coming to the riding both from the private sector and from the public sector in regards to projects like Extendicare, Northern College, College Boreal and others,” Bisson said.

The Daily Press shared with Bisson what Conservative and Liberal supporters were saying this week, that the local MPP deserves no credit for any Liberal government funding that has come to this NDP riding.

“Let me see if I got it right: If we do get money it’s not because of me, and if we didn’t get money then it’s my fault?”

Bisson said fruitful government funding applications are generally result of a collaborative effort that often begins within the community on an organizational or municipal level.

At some point, those applications are processed by local provincial and federal staff.

“We’ve got some very competent municipal councils, we’ve got effective representation both myself provincially and Charlie (Angus, Timmins-James Bay) and Carol (Hughes, Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing) federally and we’re able to work together as a group to basically put those applications forward.

“I stack our riding against any other one. We do quite well here. We’ve had lots of provincial funding that’s come into this riding and federal funding based on those applications.”

Horwath, who has been on the campaign trail through Northern Ontario the last few days, was scheduled to speak in Kirkland Lake later in the day Friday about the NDP’s commitment to removing the HST off the price of gas.

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