Liberal plank merely déja vu

With the weather warming and summer just around the corner, more and more people are starting to come to Northwestern Ontario for a visit.
Early last week, though, we had a visitor of a different kind grace us with his presence.
Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff visited the region to talk to people about rural issues and to release the last piece of his rural platform.
That final plank was a promise to ensure access to high-speed Internet for all Canadian communities within three years.
Mr. Ignatieff even went so far as to criticize the current government for not having done so to date, declaring; “Conservatives have just not done it.”
I was in Ottawa working, sadly missing this event. But when I read the report of his visit, I couldn’t believe the Liberal leader was calling out the Conservatives for not helping our region secure broadband access.
I’m sure I wasn’t the only person who had a sense of déja vu upon reading or hearing of this announcement because, well, Mr. Ignatieff is no less than the fourth Liberal to make this promise in the last decade.
The idea of universal access to broadband was first put on the agenda by the national broadband task force which was appointed by former Prime Minister Jean Chrétien’s Industry minister, Brian Tobin, all the way back in 2001.
The report of the task force, not surprisingly, contained the very recommendation that Mr. Ignatieff was pedalling to us again last week.
A simple question I would have liked to ask him, had I not been in Ottawa working, would have been, “Why didn’t Mr. Chrétien or Mr. Martin fulfill this Liberal promise 10 years ago?”
When the Liberals ended their 13-year reign, this promise of broadband Internet access for all rural Canadians joined a long list of other promises that went unfulfilled.
Who can forget the promise to scrap the GST? What about a public day care system that was first promised in the 1993 Liberal Red Book?
It’s almost insulting that Mr. Ignatieff strolls into Thunder Bay to re-announce a promise his party first made 10 years ago while his party was in government—and then blasts the current one for not doing the same.
I guess this is just the Liberal way of doing things.
The truth is that it is both Liberal and Conservative inaction on files like this that have left Northwestern Ontario behind. We need to look no further than across the border to our friends in northern Minnesota to see that areas just as remote and rural as ours can be provided with these high-quality services—if it is made a priority.
If Mr. Ignatieff’s predecessors atop the Liberal Party simply had followed through on their past promises, then we would already be enjoying the same services that have been available to many other Canadians for years and we certainly would have a higher standard of living as a result.
In the end, I actually was glad to hear that rural Canada finally made an appearance on Mr. Ignatieff’s electoral radar.
It’s too bad, though, that his local candidates failed to inform him that many of the struggles we face today in Northwestern Ontario are the direct result of 13 years of broken promises by Liberal governments.

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