The Dryden Observer

Your Source for Dryden News

Battleground North

Chris Marchand

Chris Marchand served as editor of the Dryden Observer from August 2009 to April 2018.
With a week to go in this provincial election, the prophecy of ‘Battleground North’ is growing  truer each day.
As always seems the case, it is those voters who may not have have paid the closest attention to provincial politics over the past four years that may be the most vulnerable to suggestion, to have their buttons pushed in this election.
The local candidates forum was evidence enough of the skilled use of the word ‘Dalton McGuinty’ which has come to embody northwestern alienation — a catch-all term for every difference we perceive between ourselves and southern Ontario. The idea that we are some form of unique and beautiful snowflake is a tool that has seen much use in this election.
An interesting question might be how that sense of alienation has been shaped and cultivated by our Member of Provincial Parliament and NDP Party leader Howard Hampton for the past 15 years.
We should understand that it is the nature of a leader of the opposition to unconditionally oppose just about every idea that isn’t his party’s own. Hampton was the classic contrarian. His views most often became our views simply because they were few who could argue the points through the unique perspective of the Kenora Rainy-River Riding. Hampton was our guy, but he balanced his representation of the riding with the opposition goals of his party. And we went along for the ride.
For the first time in many years, this riding stands at a crossroads. Kenora Rainy-River has to decide whether it wishes to continue on an opposition course, or to seek association with whatever party we feel may make the next government.
At the moment, it’s a total crapshoot.
The Ontario Liberals have made their share of mistakes in the north, but to accuse them of inaction on the issues that face us is short-sighted.
Only through the clarity of hindsight can the NDP and Conservatives attack the Liberals’ attempts to reshape a wood tenure system that was in desperate need of reform; to establish the Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs); to attempt to form a consultation framework around development in the far north.
That these Liberal initiatives have manifested themselves rather clumsily is perfectly fair criticism, but it is also fair to recognize that these are situations that no other generation of Ontarians have had to face. There are no roadmaps for these unexplored times.
I find myself rather unsatisfied with the NDP and PC parties’ explanation of how they might do things differently in forestry, mining development and First Nations consultation. These are all things much easier said than done. Are we to undo all that has been done?
As far as the HST goes, its benefits to streamlining the sales tax system are far outweighed by the manner in which it has applied to essential goods, which I think has made life significantly harder for everyone in Ontario.
Hydro? You won’t catch me arguing with the PCs and the NDP on this one either.
As the potential gateway out of the recession for Ontario, I think the north does need a vehicle to assert our interests in Queens’ Park — if only to protect ourselves from interference from the special interests that have ingratiated themselves upon every policy decision regarding the north.
In that regard, I think the best question for the candidates was asked by a Dryden resident at the recent forum.
“Are you prepared to be thrown out of your party in the interest of representing us?”
 Chris Marchand

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.