Grit’s David Peterson Was Northern Ontario’s Best Friend – Stan Sudol

This column was originally published in the Sudbury Star on February 20, 2004

Liberal Premier David Peterson had the vision and the will to support Northern Ontario

History will probably show that The Honourable David R. Peterson PC, QC was the best advocate Northern Ontario ever had. Ontario’s 20th premier, who was also Minister Responsible for Northern Development and Mines, was a true visionary, in the same mold as John A. McDonald, this country’s first prime minister.

Premier Peterson’s greatest legacy was the decentralization of parts of the Ontario civil service to various regions of the province. This forward thinking Liberal policy was initiated to spread the wealth and stability that government jobs provide. At that time, a disproportionate number of civil servants were located in the booming Toronto region which was choking on its excessive growth.

By relocating government offices and jobs throughout the province, the Peterson Liberals helped diversity the economic base of many communities that were affected by rapidly changing economic conditions.

In those innovative years, the Ministry of Natural Resources was relocated in Peterborough, the OPP headquarters went to Orillia, the Ministry of Agriculture moved to Guelph, parts of the massive Ministry of Health was shifted to Kingston and a section of the Ministry of Transport headed for St. Catherines. Unfortunately the Conservatives stopped the relocation of the Ministry of Tourism and Culture to Niagara Falls.

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