Right move

District residents can cheer legislation introduced by the provincial Liberal government on Monday that, among other things, will keep the Kenora-Rainy River riding intact rather than see us tacked on to Thunder Bay, as is the case at the federal level.
Back in 1996, the former Conservative government under then premier Mike Harris passed legislation requiring provincial ridings to mirror their federal counterparts—which resulted in the old ridings of Rainy River and Kenora merging into one for the 1999 election.
But when the federal electoral boundaries changed prior to the last election back in June, creating the new Thunder Bay-Rainy River riding, it meant the same change would have to be enacted provincially under the Harris legislation.
Fortunately, Premier Dalton McGuinty’s Liberals saw the wisdom—and logic—in keeping Rainy River and Kenora together (as well as maintaining 11 Northern Ontario seats at Queen’s Park rather than the 10 the region would have had under the old law).
To his credit, Thunder Bay-Rainy River MP Ken Boshcoff has been visible in this part of the riding since last June’s election, attending events, meeting with constituents and local special interest groups, and maintaining an office in Fort Frances.
Nevertheless, creating an east-west, urban-rural, Eastern-Central time zone riding still makes precious little sense at the federal level—and would have been even worse at the provincial one, where Rainy River District is that much more closely linked to its northerly neighbours in terms of issues, policies, needs, and lifestyles than to Thunder Bay.
In this case, the government deserves kudos for heeding our concerns.