[Ontario] Come together to break apart – by James Bow (Kitchener Post – October 11, 2012)


The cancellation of the Ontario Northland train between Toronto and Cochrane has raised whispers in the northern Ontario media about separatism.

It is no secret that northerners are frustrated with Premier Dalton McGuinty’s government. The McGuinty Liberals hold only four seats north of Muskoka. Northerners also haven’t forgotten the treatment they received under Mike Harris, which is why the Progressive Conservatives have only two seats in the north.

But on my ride on the last Northlander to and from Toronto, I heard great cynicism among northerners about politicians of all stripes.

Between this decision, the closure of overnight camping in 10 northern provincial parks, and a host of slights by governments Liberal and PC, northerners seem to be losing confidence that any government in Queen’s Park is capable of responding to northern concerns.

In this environment, it’s not surprising to hear the Northern Ontario Heritage Party starting to beat the drum of northern secession.

They are looking to run candidates in the next election and hope to form a Bloc Northern Ontario in Queen’s Park. If that doesn’t work, they might look to making northern Ontario its own province. If they did this, they wouldn’t be alone.

A small group of urban activists in the Greater Toronto Area are themselves frustrated with the pace of change in Queen’s Park. They argue the GTA has almost half of Ontario’s population and pays more than half the taxes. Investments need to be made to reduce congestion and keep the economy moving. If Queen’s Park can’t do it, maybe the cities of the GTA should be given the powers to do it themselves.

I may be a Kitchener resident, but I’ve wondered if it makes sense to have the GTA become Canada’s 11th province. It is a big, economically integrated region whose management is fractured over six regional municipalities. Without a single coherent regional manager, Queen’s Park has had little choice but to fill the vacuum.

For residents of southwestern and eastern Ontario, this is itself frustrating. We are Ontarians too. But how can Queen’s Park serve our interests when time and money is dominated by the votes within the GTA? Is it any wonder rural residents are forced to swallow wind farms while this government cancels power plants in vote-rich cities?

For the rest of this column, please go to the Kitchener Post website: http://www.kitchenerpost.ca/opinion/come-together-to-break-apart/