The Sudbury Star is the City of Greater Sudbury’s daily newspaper.
“The NDP’s intention to force companies to process more minerals in Ontario is dubious, but
it hasn’t really been tried. The party wants to establish a stainless steel industry in the
province, something advocated by mining analyst Stan Sudol. It would be interesting to watch
them try, rather than allowing so much unprocessed material from the Ring of Fire to leave
the country.” Sudbury Star Editor – Brian MacLeod
Northern Ontario has factored large in both the Liberal and NDP campaigns.
Unfortunately, the Progressive Conservatives have ignored the region. Party Leader Tim Hudak never once ventured north, he skipped the leadership debate in Thunder Bay, and has taken no time to explain his party’s policies to northerners. There is a sense that the party’s policy of eliminating 100,000 civil servants jobs will hit some northern ridings hard – especially Sudbury and Nickel Belt’s health and education sectors. And Hudak has not properly explained what the party would do with the $100 million Northern Ontario Heritage Fund.
The Tories say they would finish four-laning Highway 69 – sometime. That doesn’t cut it.
Hudak’s focus on the deficit is commendable, but the speed at which he wants to eliminate it – one year faster than the other two major parties – is bound to have a significant impact on the North. A Hudak government would suppress Northern priorities to debt reduction.
As for the Liberals, Sudbury has done well under the party and has had the benefit of having Rick Bartolucci as a cabinet minister. But most of those years were under a majority government. That is not likely to happen in this election.
The Liberals vow to finish Highway 69 by 2017. Leader Kathleen Wynne has visited the riding, promising to provide $26.7 million to upgrade Maley Drive to divert trucks and traffic from Lasalle Boulevard and the Kingway, but that is contingent on federal funding. The Liberals’ performance on The Ring of Fire – which, when developed, is bound to yield benefits for the city’s mining supply and services sector – has been uneven. It wasn’t until Cliffs Natural Resources stopped work that the Liberals got serious, finally announcing $1 billion for infrastructure – first contingent on federal funding in the budget, then free of that requirement in their election platform, yet still there is no plan. The party wants to increase wages of personal support workers by $4 per hour, which could help retain good people and ease the strain on hospitals, and that would benefit Sudbury.
The Sudbury area could continue to do well under the Liberals, but so much of what the party does now is toxic. Its spending scandals would ensure continued rancour at Queen’s Park, possibly thwarting the party’s agenda. And with the province $283 billion in debt, surely there should have been some attention paid to reducing spending, but the budget actually boosted the deficit by $2.4 billion to $12.5. Even by Keynesian standards, that’s excessive.
The party needs time out of power to heal and refresh itself.
Which brings us to the NDP.
Leader Andrea Horwath has run an inexplicably lame campaign. But she has spent a good deal of time in the North – visiting the region at least half a dozen times. The party holds five of the 11 seats in the North, and has made no secret of its desire to establish the region as a strong power base. The tough fight in Sudbury is evidence of that. Horwath is no Johnny-come-lately to the North. Since the last election, she has visited many times. Their platform is not all that different from the Liberals in the North. Speed up development for the Ring of Fire, purchase 200 pieces of equipment for winter highway maintenance, (the Liberals have invested in this area too) and finish four-laning Highway 69 (though their promise to do it a year earlier than the Liberals carries no more weight than Hudak’s million jobs plan or the Liberals’ promise to eliminate the deficit by 2017/18).
The NDP’s intention to force companies to process more minerals in Ontario is dubious, but it hasn’t really been tried. The party wants to establish a stainless steel industry in the province, something advocated by mining analyst Stan Sudol. It would be interesting to watch them try, rather than allowing so much unprocessed material from the Ring of Fire to leave the country.
The party would also establish a northern committee in the legislature of MPPs belonging to all parties, which could serve to heighten northern issues.
The NDP is not the solution to the North’s challenges, but with a strong northern caucus the party would pay attention while the Liberals and PCs figure out where they want to go next.
As such, for this election, an NDP government with the Liberals holding the balance of power would work best for the North.
For the original version of this article, click here: http://www.thesudburystar.com/2014/06/10/editorial-the-ndp—for-now