Hail to the New Province of ‘Noront’ [Northern Ontario separation] – by Joe Lascelles (Highgrader – Summer 2013)

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Having been raped, robbed, screwed over from the beginning of Confederation, the Northern region of Ontario has had enough and we will not take it anymore. We will no longer let those feudal lords (Southern Ontario politicians) dictate how much they will leave Northerners to eat as they carry away our resources, all to fatten the coffers and the members of Government, to be spent almost exclusively in Southern Ontario.

For years, decisions for Northern Ontario have been made in Toronto by Southern politicians who, it might be said, have not bothered to even come to see how we live, see what we do for entertainment and how deep and numerous our potholes are. Southern Ontarians take as truth the Stompin’ Tom Connors ditty that Sudbury women play Bingo and the men all get stinko on a Sudbury Saturday night.

For all they think of us, most Northerners now have oil stoves to heat up our igloos. We can now cook up our seal blubber before eating it. Timmins? That’s really the North Pole isn’t it? Cochrane? Oh yes, they know something of Cochrane because they have polar bears roaming around the Esquimo village. Well, it’s a given they won’t learn any more about Cochrane and the North because our fine McGuinty government has gotten rid of the Ontario Northland Railway. How else can tourists travel to the Great White North? Southern Ontarians have no idea what exists north of the Muskokas. Oh, wait a moment! They know of Parry Sound because of Bobby Orr.

Do they really have cars in Northern Ontario? You bet your sweet bippy they do! Don’t Southerners realize that our license fees and the special taxes on tire purchases as well as higher tax revenues on our higher gas prices piled upon the
revenues from our rich mines and our huge forests, build their fancy network of roads.

Men and women who have been elected to the Ontario Legislature have no idea why we need money to run our cities up North. Southerners have no inkling of the hardships caused by the cold weather north of the Muskokas. Why in heck do we need so much money for infrastructure?

Some do-gooder bleeding hearts from the south of the province have, in their limited wisdom, forced a cancellation of the spring bear hunt. Now, with so many bears around, it’s certainly not safe to go pick a basket of blueberries. Mama bears and their babies come to town regularly to dine out. Lakes that have drawn local fishermen over the years have had access denied to vehicles in order to preserve the good fishing for tourists who are flown in.

Are we familiar with the term “downloading?” Oh yes we are! The dribbles and drabbles of Provincial grants derived from our huge mining and forestry taxes are being cut back while government has been downloading all sorts of stuff on us such as low Income housing, health care, education, welfare, etc. No wonder our infra-structure is deteriorating to a point of no return unless our cities mortgage themselves for years to come. Our hospital (amalgamation of 3 into 1) has been
designated as a Regional Hospital. It must accommodate patients from all of Northern Ontario, even though it has been scaled down from 749 beds to 429 yet it is funded as a local hospital.

Our new Premier has let it be known that Ontario Hydro rates will have to rise and it’s no wonder. Someone has to pay millions of dollars for the cancellation of those two hydro plants moved from Oakville and Hamilton.

But wait! Ms Wynne, while on the hustings, suddenly discovered that it might pay to make an official visit to Sudbury and other Northern Ontario cities. Oh, it was so gratifying to all of us gullible folks to be praised for our hard work and growth and expansion of our mining sector. Ask any member of the Federation of Northern Ontario Municipalities if she will make a difference to us Northern Ontarians. Must we always go to Queen’s Park, cap in hand and like Oliver Twist, beg; “Please, sir I want some more”. Well, Oliver did not get more, just as we are not getting more for our communities.

Many of us remember Ed Diebel, a North Bay resident who had the ability to predict the future for Northern Ontario. Having witnessed the endless rape and plunder of Northern Ontario villages, towns and cities, he spent untold amounts of personal time, money, sweat and heartbreak to promote the idea of a new party – the Northern Ontario Heritage Party. His idea was to elect Northern Ontarians who would speak for us specifically. He even dreamt of a separate province of Northern
Ontario. But did we listen?

Today, with our cities and towns bankrupt, we live with the constant hardship of paying huge garage bills to repair front ends, ball joints and shocks on our cars, year-round. Our water mains are gushing fountains, winter or summer. Municipalities are forced to take care of their own water treatment and sewage disposal at enormous cost.

Communities, like Capreol, Chelmsford and so on – while functioning autonomously were effective and economical – were lumped together with other communities into a big Greater Sudbury by the late Mike Harris government.

Amalgamation was to save us big money. Now the residents of those smaller communities must settle for less at a much higher cost. According to the rise in my annual tax bill I’m getting a lot less service for much higher taxes. We’re told that for the next three years, taxes in Greater Sudbury will rise by 3.4% to 4.6% and in order to keep the taxes down, new user fees will be added.

Someone from Queen’s Park leaked a solution to our problems: in the case of Sudbury, borrowing $550,000,000 to improve our infrastructure. In other words, saddling our next generations with a humungous debt from their birth to their death. In my opinion, let’s dig up all we can about Ed Diebel’s proposals and then set in motion a movement to create a separate province which we could call the Province of Noront. It would span from Mattawa to the East, to Parry Sound to the South,
to James Bay to the North and to the Manitoba border to the west, including Thunder Bay.

Without prejudice, I humbly suggest a new model of government which would scale down the cost of bureaucracies by billions of dollars yet work more effectively. Since each village, town or city elects its mayor and ward councillors within a given electoral district, each elected mayor would in turn, choose a representative from his or her electoral district to sit on a larger Northern Ontario council.

This would provide a voice to even the smallest community in the governance of the new province.

From that large circle of district members, a smaller group of executives, one from each electoral district, would then be chosen to go to the provincial capital (North Bay or Sudbury) to act on behalf of their communities. From the 50 executives, a leader would be selected by those executives. I might suggest someone of the calibre of Vic Fideli from North Bay. The members of his caucus might be composed of such knowledgeable people as Tom Laughren of Timmins as Minister of Mines, Lands and Forests; France Gelinas as Minister of Health and Welfare; Debbie Amoroso as Minister of Tourism and Industry; Maryanne Matichuk as Minister of Infrastructure; Al Spacek, as Minister of Northern Affairs and Development. I
could go on and on but, you get the picture.

Each community, no matter how small would have a representative speaking on its behalf. Party affiliations would not matter one bit here. There would not be party shadow cabinets. This would save a major pile of money and time wasted on
arguing in parliament just for the sake of looking good for constituents. That’s not to say there would be no arguments but the size of the Legislature would make it so much more manageable. In essence, what you would have is one big Federation of Northern Ontario Municipalities that would look after re-distribution of wealth. Taking care of problems might require some sort of equalization.

Does all of this bear serious thought? Who knows! All I know is that with our present system of government, once elected, a member must adhere to the party line. Settle for crumbs but make a big splash on receiving your government cheque so that it appears that the government is really concerned about your electoral district.

Bark only when we pull your chain.

After all this, I’d like to take my tongue out of my cheek because it’s really getting tired. However, if anyone can come up with any system of provincial government that could replace the present one, I’m all ears.

 

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