Sudbury column: Separation anxiety – by Doug Millroy (Sudbury Star – May 15, 2016)

Doug Millroy is th editor emeritus of The Sault Star.

In my late teens I used to espouse the thought to anyone who would listen that Northern Ontario, because of its size, natural resources and seeming neglect by those in power in the south, should look toward becoming a separate province.

Being from Dryden, in the far northwestern part of the province, I naturally saw the seat of power as being in Fort William or Port Arthur, the forerunners of what is now Thunder Bay. It is an idea that over the years — actually not all that many years — I dropped as being senseless, but it remained viable in the minds of many others, surfacing every so often.

For instance, in January, Trevor Holliday launched an online petition calling for independence for the North, picking up from where the 1970s’ Northern Ontario Heritage Party and other Northern Ontario separatist movements left off.

And as you will have noted from a Postmedia story on April 20, the idea, with a somewhat different spin, has gotten some support from another quarter.

David Robinson, a Laurentian University economics professor, has authored a report called Revolution or Devolution – How Ontario Should be Governed. In it he says Northern Ontario has the size and economic resources to become a province, but political barriers stand in its way of becoming one.

Therefore, instead of independence he suggests devolution, where the central government — in this case the provincial legislature — delegates power to local or regional administrations.

Under this scenario, Robinson says options include granting Northern Ontario legislative powers, creating an elected but advisory Northern Ontario assembly, and a semi-autonomous district with most of the powers of the province.

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