It is amazing the issues that transcend geographical boundaries and distance. Take for example dissatisfied constituents calling for separation from their current political body.
For example, in January, the prospect of Northern Ontario separatism was raised again by Trevor Holliday from Callander. Ontario. His frustrations of having to travel long distances to see a doctor and feeling unrepresented at Queen’s Park led him to push the idea to create the Province of Northern Ontario — which he defined as Algoma, Manitoulin & Kapaskasing, Kenora, Nickle Belt, Nipissing & Timiskaming, Parry Sound & Muskoka, Sault Ste. Marie, Sudbury, Thunder Bay, Rainy River, Thunder Bay Superior North and Timmins James Bay — in a change.org petition.
Holliday’s petition has gained 3,835 supporters since he initiated it Jan. 1.
Of course, this is not a new idea. It has recirculated several times since the early 1970s. In 1973, North Bay’s Ed Deibel called for a referendum to sever the North from the rest of Ontario as part of the opposition he raised against a provincial budget proposal to impose a sales tax on electricity and home heating bills. Ten years ago, the idea of Northwestern Ontario separating from Ontario and becoming part of Manitoba was promoted at both the Rainy River District and Kenora District Municipal Associations’ annual meetings.
The common refrain each and every time the issue is raised seems to be that Northerners believe “all” decisions are made in Southern Ontario by folks who have no real understanding of the North.
As I hinted in my introduction, the issue is no different in other areas of the country — and even globally.
Before coming to Northern Ontario and learning the history of Northern Ontario disgruntlement, I lived in Western Canada.
The Western Canada Concept, founded in 1980, promoted the separation of the provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia and the Yukon and Northwest Territories from Canada and the formation of a new nation. The argument made was that the interests of Quebec and Ontario dominated Canadian politics and, as a result, Western Canada suffered.
On a grander scheme, I also am familiar with Cascadia. The concept of a country located in the area of Washington, Oregon, British Columbia and including parts of Idaho, Montana, Northern California and Alaska in the U.S. and maybe as far reaching as Yukon, has been kicked around for about 25 years. The Cascadia concept grew from attempts to foster connections in the Pacific Northwest region for economic reasons primarily.
I knew very little — well, almost nothing — about the State of Jefferson until a short discussion on Sunday with friends who recently returned from visiting friends and family in Seattle and northern California.
Jefferson is an idea that dates back about 70 years and, after a closer study, could be mistaken for an older brother for Northern Ontario. New York Daily News reporter Sarah Goodyear describes the constituents of the vast region of Northern California as being “cut off from the seats of power by geography, alienated by the state’s left-leaning politics and tendency toward regulation, enduring stubbornly high unemployment, facing the decimation of traditional industries such as logging, and harboring few prospects for economic growth “¦”
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