Voice for the North [Ontario]: NEOMA forming professional lobby group – by Wayne Snider (Timmins Daily Press – September 26, 2011)

 The Daily Press is the city of Timmins newspaper.

COCHRANE — Tired of southern-based special interest groups influencing provincial legislation that impacts the North, municipal leaders are prepared to fight back.

Members of the Northeastern Ontario Municipal Association (NEOMA) are gearing up to create a professional lobbying effort to represent their interests.

Saturday, at NEOMA’s meeting held at Cochrane’s Tim Horton Event Centre, political leaders voted to establish a subcommittee to set up a framework for the lobby effort. It will report back to the group by early January, in time for member municipalities to support the effort in their 2012 budgets.

“I am happy that we are actually rolling up our sleeves and getting active on this issue,” Cochrane Mayor Peter Politis told The Daily Press after the meeting. “I know we’ve been talking for a long time about not having a value (to the Northern perspective) in the legislature.

“We’re a very collaborative group already. The mayors at the table are very clear, they are very positive about the issue.”

In recent years, NEOMA was continuously reacting to provincial legislation that eroded Northern lifestyle and growth potential. Items like the Far North Act, caribou protection in the Endangered Species Act, and changes to forestry tenure have all impacted the North. All the while, numerous special interest groups were on the ground floor influencing government while NEOMA municipalities were informed after the fact.

Politis said he believes there is already solid public support here for a lobby effort.

“The average Northerner is really fed up that their way of life, their lifestyle and their ability to choose their own culture is being effected by others who don’t even live here,” he said.

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