Rafferty calls for fairness

Northwestern Ontario needs an MP ready to work for sustainable industries, strong environmental policy, and fairness for the north, says local federal NDP candidate John Rafferty.
Rafferty was acclaimed by local party members at a nomination meeting here last Thursday night, with two more meetings held in Atikokan on Friday night and then Thunder Bay on Sunday to finalize his candidacy.
“This is the year we take back Northwestern Ontario,” he told supporters at the East End hall to enthusiastic applause.
“It’s time we took our rightful place in Canada as northerners.”
The nomination meeting in town was attended by about 20 local NDP members, including Ontario NDP leader and local MPP Howard Hampton, who predicted success for the party here in the next election.
“I don’t know if John will win. I suspect he will,” Hampton said.
“He’s proven he’s willing to do the work. You’d almost think he is our member of Parliament,” he added, noting Rafferty has travelled across the riding many times, attending community events and getting to know the people and their issues.
“He’s visible. He will do the work and take a real interest in the community,” Hampton continued.
Rafferty also praised the district for its ability to band together in times of need, citing the hundreds of thousands of dollars raised in just months for such big-ticket items as a new sports complex, new theatre, and now a CT Scanner.
“That’s what northerners are like. We should be pretty proud of that,” he said.
Rafferty accused the Liberals of siding with the Conservatives in supporting a softwood lumber agreement with the United States that already has had a negative impact on the north.
“We’re worried about our children’s future,” he stressed.
And he credited the NDP with bringing all the parties together to rewrite the Clean Air Act to make it more effective.
“The NDP is on the right track,” he remarked.
Rafferty identified job security, sustainable industry, and fairness as some of the most important needs in Northwestern Ontario.
“I promise you—I will deliver,” he pledged.
Rafferty lost to Liberal MP Ken Boshcoff last January by a mere 658 votes, or 1.7 percent. He also ran in June, 2004, losing to Boshcoff by more than 3,500 votes, or nearly 10 percent.
Hampton said Rafferty did very well in the last election.
“I think if the election had gone on three or four more days, John Rafferty would have won,” he noted.
“Just counting the votes from election day, John Rafferty won the election,” Hampton added. “He didn’t win with the ‘snowbirds.’”
With the minority Conservative government scheduled to table a budget next month, there’s the possibility the country could face an election this spring.
“Will we have a federal election this spring? That’s anyone’s guess,” Hampton said. “If we’re going to be thoughtful and do our work, we need to be ready.”
The next election will be a chance to pick up those votes and secure a win for the NDP, he added.
“We’ve got a great opportunity here. Here’s an opportunity to get it right,” Hampton stressed.
Last Thursday night’s opened with a call to order by Mike Mosley, vice-president for the Thunder Bay-Rainy River riding association (west). Following Hampton’s address, Mosley invited members to nominate and second their one declared candidate.
NDP rules regarding nominations have changed in the last year. Previously, people could be nominated from the floor of the meeting.
Now, those interested must declare their intention to run at least seven days before the first nomination meeting.