Horwath plays to Northern [Ontario] discontent – Anna Mehler Paperny (Globe and Mail – September 9, 2011)

The Globe and Mail is Canada’s national newspaper with the second largest broadsheet circulation in the country. It has enormous influence on Canada’s political and business elite.

THUNDER BAY – Over 19 hours and 3,300 kilometres, Andrea Horwath laid out her battle plan for Ontario’s north.

The region was home to some of the closest-fought races of the 2007 election. This year, the parties are going at it again. Their game plan? To duke it out over who is the best champion of a recession-hit region that tends to feel politically disenfranchised and far removed from Queen’s Park.

So Ms. Horwath, campaigning on a platform of average-Joe discontent, has a receptive ear to complaints of neglect.

“We can create a future for the North that creates good jobs. But it won’t happen by sticking with the made-in-Toronto status quo,” she said Thursday. “We are shipping away logs and we are buying back the sawdust. It makes no sense. And we can do better.”

She unveiled her Northern Ontario platform Thursday at stops in Sudbury, Sturgeon Falls and Thunder Bay – selling a message that the current Liberal government is ignoring the need of the North, and her party won’t.

The policies were tailor-made and hyper-local – a new PET scanner for Sudbury will cost $3-million to buy and about $1-million a year to run. But the symbolic importance of the first such scanner in northeast Ontario, the only region of the province without one, is potent.

Some of her initiatives bear a striking resemblance to those being advanced by Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak, who promised to take measures to make energy cheaper and repeal the Far North Act.

“Dalton McGuinty wants to freeze half of Northern Ontario in time, basically rope it off like some kind of museum exhibit never to be touched,” Mr. Hudak told reporters in Ottawa. “But there’s people who live there, people who aspire to good jobs.”

Similarly designed to go for the local-issue jugular is Ms. Horwath’s plan to oblige companies to process and refine the resource they’re extracting within the province.

For the rest of this article, please go to the Globe and Mail website: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/ontario-election/horwath-plays-to-northern-discontent/article2157957/

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