Could more autonomy hurt the north? One expert says yes – by Frank Giorno (Timmins Today – September 28, 2017)

“For example, Manitoba established a university in its north in the 19th
Century, but in Ontario it took until the 1960s to start up a Northern
university. The decision was made in Queen’s Park,” said Robinson. “Queen’s
Park is keeping the University of Toronto’s mining school when it could be
more successful in northern Ontario.”

Robinson spoke about the success of the Sudbury Area Mining Supply and
Services Association (SAMSSA) in promoting northern Ontario mining and
how Queen’s Park disagreed with its development.

TIMMINS — Striving for greater autonomy for northern Ontario comes with risk, says an expert who spoke at a conference on the state of the region. Devolved jurisdictions like Greenland, the Faroe Islands and Iceland have not succeeded as proponents expected, said David MacKinnon, a former senior civil servant with the Ontario government’s Ministry of Finance who has also worked in Nova Scotia.

“The question to ask is whether devolution of power will lead to improved governance, or perhaps the opposite,” MacKinnon told conference-goers at a two-day conference held in Timmins by the Northern Policy Insitutute. “Devolution does have serious risks in my view.”

“Devolution could lead to more local introspection to find solutions and I think that is the very last thing Northern Ontario needs,” MacKinnon asserted. Competing visions for the future of Northern Ontario were debated at the conference. A report card on the north was delivered by the president and CEO of the Northern Policy Institute Charles Cirtwill to get things started.

MacKinnon was joined by professor David Robinson, of Laurentian University in leading the discussion on two approaches to improving governance for Northern Ontario.

“For 50 years we have been hearing the same consistent message from Northern Ontario- we need to get the government’s attention, we need more government investment, but these demands only have a partial relationship to the world we live – this approach leads to isolated thinking,” MacKinnon said.

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