Lobbyist hijacking of Queen’s Park must end – by Wayne Snider (Timmins Daily Press – March 6, 2013)

The Daily Press is the city of Timmins broadsheet newspaper.

TIMMINS – Premier Kathleen Wynne is promising to give the North a new voice in the Ontario legislature, having formed a special Liberal committee to discuss regional issues. She even held a provincial cabinet meeting in Sault Ste. Marie last week to assure Northerners that the government’s new focus on the region is legit.

There are promises to bring Northern leaders and industry to the table, following a history of Queen’s Park ignoring the socio-economic well being of the North.

These promises are all fine and dandy. But if Wynne really wants to make a difference in the North, if she is really sincere about listening to our concerns, she must end one practice that has been going on for decades — even before the Liberals took over the reins of power. Stop letting special interest groups hijack the provincial government.

There are two obvious examples of where environmental lobbyists were allowed to mould legislation that negatively impacted the North: The cancellation of the spring bear hunt and the tabling of the Endangered Species Act. Both hurt the Northern economy, yet allow the government to showcase its warm and fuzzy side to voters in Southern Ontario who have no idea of the true impact these pieces of sh— … er, legislation, have on our region.

Back in 1999, after receiving a huge donation from a plastic manufacturer, the International Fund for Animal Welfare used its windfall to blackmail Premier Mike Harris into cancelling the spring bear hunt.

With a provincial election approaching, the IFAW told Harris it would use its new war chest to launch a massive media campaign depicting cute, cuddly bear cubs. The theme of the campaign was to show voters in eight key swing ridings (held at the time by the Tories) how mean old Harris was allowing these cute cubs to be orphaned because of the big bad hunters.

Harris, feeling threatened that he would lose his coveted majority, caved.

No consultation with Northerners. No study of the real impact this would have on wildlife management. No concern that outfitters would lose millions of dollars in tourism revenue from out-of-province and American hunters.

Harris was able to preserve his majority. And that is what really mattered to the government of the day.

Fast forward to 2007. Dalton McGuinty’s Liberals passed the Endangered Species Act, which was driven by a coalition of environmental groups looking to “save” Northern Ontario from the evil empires of mining and forestry.

For the rest of this article, please go to the Timmins Daily Press website: http://www.timminspress.com/2013/03/06/lobbyist-hijacking-of-queens-park-must-end

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