Seize [Ontario] North’s destiny – by Mike Whitehouse (Sudbury Star – September 29, 2011)

The Sudbury Star is the City of Greater Sudbury’s daily newspaper.

Canada and Ontario badly need Northern Ontario to succeed, North Bay Mayor Al McDonald says, and the North desperately needs leaders and leadership.

McDonald addressed City of Greater Sudbury council last night with an appeal to strike an accord of northern communities to promote common regional goals and interests.

The North is hampered by two syndromes, he said. First, cities and towns in the North are still dependent on handouts from provincial and federal governments — and, often, industries — for the most basic of needs. In this way, northern destinies are still controlled in Toronto and Ottawa, he said.

Second, Northern Ontario communities and businesses are competing in a global marketplace and not doing so together is disadvantaging all of them, he said. “We need a plan and a vision for Northern Ontario and we need it to be comprehensive and inclusive,” he said.

In the past, northern mayors and other politicians have come together with common cause, but the region needs more than that. McDonald suggests business and community leaders, as well as academics and politicians, working together can pull the region closer to self-determination and prosperity than anything that has come before.

For example, the Growth Planfor Northern Ontario passed by the provincial government last year, is too vague, McDonald said, and is reflective of the need for the North to seize control of its own destiny.

Sudbury city council is the first stop of many across the North as he tries to sell his vision.

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