NORTHERN ONTARIO’S DREAM TO SECEDE, REBORN: ‘WE’RE TREATED LIKE A COLONY’ – by Joseph Brean (National Post – April 11, 2018)

NORTH BAY — They called it Aurora. It was to be a new province in Canada, carved out of Ontario’s hinterland, so far northwest of Toronto it is a different place, practically Manitoba.

That was in the 1940s, when Hubert Limerick’s New Province League led the push for northern secession. It was hardly the first time, nor the last. The latest effort has taken the form of a revamped and renamed political party with a motley slate of candidates, now set to launch an ambitious election campaign in northern Ontario ridings.

Their aim is to seize the balance of power in what they hope, after June’s election, will be a narrowly divided legislature at Queen’s Park. Then, they want to seek a referendum on the creation — against all constitutional odds — of a new province.

But first, they need votes — which is how the National Post came to be sitting in an old trailer outside Callander, Ont., in the woods near Lake Nipissing, in the yard of Trevor Holliday, a 35-year-old coach driver for Ontario Northland, a father of five, and the leader of the Northern Ontario Party. The amenities were sparse in the NOP’s mobile campaign headquarters, but the vision was grand.

“In the North, trailers are more accepted than buses,” Holliday observes good humouredly, and without implying the party could afford a bus — or indeed, even this trailer, which belongs to Holliday’s uncle.

“We’re not looking to do anything negative. We want the people of Northern Ontario to be able to be heard, and we want to be that voice. So we will ask the people what they want, and if the majority of people want to have our own province, standalone province, then that’s something we have to aim towards,” Holliday says.

“‘Separatist’ is negative. We’re not leaving the country. We’re not proposing to leave the country. We’re creating the idea of, instead of just saying we’re Northern Ontario, let us be Northern Ontario … If the people of the North want it, then why wouldn’t we want to try? Is it impossible? Nothing’s impossible.”

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