NOMA calls on Ontario political leaders to outline relationship they envision with the North – by Jon Thompson (Kenora Daily Miner & News – December 12, 2012)

Murray has released a platform that would grant Northern Ontario its own government within the province. Elected alongside municipal councils, it would have taxation powers, administrate legislation with Northern relevance and have a degree of autonomy over energy and transportation portfolios.

NOMA is calling on other Liberal candidates as well as Ontario’s PCs and NDP to let their views be known on what kind of relationship they envision between Queen’s Park and Northwestern Ontario.

“We’re looking not just at the Liberal Party because of their leadership race. That’s what spurred it but we’re looking for all parties to buy in to this concept of the decision-making process in the Northwest, by the Northwest for the Northwest,” Canfield said, speaking on NOMA’s behalf. “An MPP out of Toronto, who is a little bit more familiar with our region than most of them are, has brought this up in the leadership race, it was a perfect opportunity. We’ve been saying this for years.”

Canfield insisted the Northwest needs an independent deal from the Northeast, as Calgary is closer to Kenora than is Sudbury, yet he sees three legislative buildings and three planning acts when he looks the same distance to the west.

“Will a planning act for all of Ontario work? No. It won’t. It doesn’t,” said Canfield. “It never has done. It has always created problems and it has always stifled development for us.

“If we had control of the resources and the infrastructure — that decision-making process and the planning process is key to everything — if we could do that here with some sort of regional governance, we’d still be in the province of Ontario,” he insisted. “We’re not looking to take over health care and all these things. It would just be taking over the economic development drivers so the decisions could be made here.”

Canfield pointed to the stalled Ring Of Fire development, forestry business conditions he called “the highest cost jurisdiction in the world” and planning requirements that take years to implement as he condemned the status quo. He suggested the new Northern Ontario Policy Institute could help form a democratic structure and was intent that while partnerships could be enhanced between Northwestern municipalities and First Nations if the right model were implemented, their relationships with the Crown would remain distinct.

“It’s time to change things. Ontario is becoming less and less competitive all the time as a province and unless we change this, it affects us because if Queen’s Park is less effective and less competitive, that means we’re less effective, too,” he added. “At the end of the day, the royalties, whether it’s mining or forestry, it’s going to be better for the communities in Northwestern Ontario and it’s going to be better for Queen’s Park because things are actually going to happen for a change.”

For the original version of this article, please go to the Kenora Daily Miner News website: