Saturday, August 23, 2014

Premier calls for debate on north

While she hopes the May 1 provincial budget will pass, Premier Kathleen Wynne is ready for an election—and has challenged the Progressive Conservative and NDP leaders to a debate focused on Northern Ontario issues.
Wynne spoke yesterday evening to an audience of regional municipal leaders in town for the Northwestern Ontario Municipal Association’s annual general meeting, noting the 2014 budget includes plans for infrastructure and jobs.

“If the opposition does not choose to work with us, and that is a real possibility in a minority Parliament, if that is the case, we will be in an election situation,” she remarked.
“I hope they do [support it], I hope we can get the support to make the investments that we need,” Wynne added.
“But if that isn’t the case, then we will be in an election situation.
“And during that election, I am going to call on, and I call on them today, opposition leaders to join me and come to the north and discuss these issues at a northern leaders’ debate,” Wynne promised.
“I will be here. I will come to the north. I will be here.”
“The Liberals have ignored the needs of Northern Ontario for too long,” NDP leader Andrea Horwath, who was
scheduled to address the NOMA delegates early this afternoon, said in a statement.
“I’m happy to debate Kathleen Wynne and Tim Hudak on northern issues anywhere in the north, any time,” she vowed.
Wynne, meanwhile, said she looks forward to a northern debate because it’s very important that all the voices be heard during an election campaign.
“I think an election is exactly the time to be discussing important issues, it’s exactly the time for you to push us on what we stand for, what we believe,” she stressed.
“I look forward to the northern leaders’ debate. I look forward to an election campaign, if that’s where we need to go. . . .
“But that’s not where I want to go right now,” Wynne remarked.
“I think we need to implement our budget, to implement the investments I think we all need, and to work to make this economy cook in the north.”
“Wynne held her first cabinet meeting in the north, and has kept northern issues front and centre in our government ever since,” noted Thunder Bay-Atikokan MPP Bill Mauro.
“But the PCs and the NDP want to make the next election about Toronto subways,” he charged.
“Kathleen Wynne wants to make the next election about the future of our province, and her vision for our future includes a thriving Northern Ontario and that is why she is committed to a northern debate,” Mauro added.
“Northerners have a clear choice—and that’s Kathleen Wynne’s steady plan for jobs and growth,” echoed Thunder Bay-Superior North MPP Michael Gravelle.
“She wants Northern Ontario to reach its full potential, and the best way to do that is by talking about what matters most in northern communities,” he reasoned.
“The northern leaders’ debate is a great way to have that discussion.
The NOMA conference wraps up today at the Memorial Sport Centre.

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