I’m sitting down to try and find a reason to vote in the provincial election next Wednesday (Oct. 10).
I find this election to be really difficult. Locally, NDP leader Howard Hampton, in the Rainy River portion of the riding, at least, looks to be all but anointed for another term at Queen’s Park.
He probably deserves the crown for his hard work. The other three parties’ candidates, meanwhile, have hardly made an appearance in this end of the riding and would not be recognized on the street.
The northwest region of Ontario is almost in the perfect storm. The forestry industry is in the dumps. Paper usage is declining in North America. Housing starts across the U.S. are down and for the first time in decades, home prices are dropping as the mortgage crisis continues there.
The Canadian dollar that allowed lumber and paper industries to sell products cheaper into the States has risen in relationship to the U.S. greenback, making many of those products more expensive.
That competitive advantage has been lost.
Industries prosper on competitive advantages such as technological advances, inexpensive base materials and services, and skilled workforces.
As we are forced to come to grips with global warming, we are now faced with new challenges. If we shutter coal-fired generators in Thunder Bay and Atikokan to reduce green house gas emissions, the surplus energy that today is found in Northwestern Ontario will disappear—impacting on the creation of new mining opportunities.
The Power Workers Union of Ontario is promoting upgrading many of the existing coal-fired plants with state-of-the-art scrubbers and pollution equipment that will reduce those gases. It is being done across the U.S.
It is not a perfect solution, but it does address an issue that continues to confront Northwestern Ontario.
The concern spoken by residents of the northwest is jobs, jobs, and jobs. Health care eventually finds its way into the conversation, but the creation and maintaining of jobs is uppermost in everyone’s mind.
That is the question that should be addressed and answered by every candidate.
I don’t hear anyone talking about transforming the economy and creating new jobs. What services, facilities, infrastructure, and training will be needed in this area for Northwestern Ontario to become part of the new world economy?
How will each of the parties tackle the issue?
I am looking to hear some of these questions answered in the next week to give me a reason to go to the polls.
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