Some Ontario Liberal Leadership candidates have committed to reconsidering the government’s policy on issues affecting Northern Ontario as they seek to broaden their support prior to the leadership convention, said the Federation of Northern Ontario Municipalities (FONOM).
FONOM met with Liberal leadership candidates Jan. 16 to assess their commitment to addressing pressing Northern issues, like the province’s divestment in the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission, and the planned closure of seven provincial parks to overnight camping.
FONOM is also seeking a commitment for more consultation and input from Northerners on legislation and policy decisions that directly effect northern Ontario.
2012 was a difficult year for Northern Ontario as the province took several swings at their economy by cancelling, or threatening to sell off, vital transportation services, telecommunications networks, and freight rail used by Northern Ontario companies to affordably transport natural resources and minerals, FONOM said.
Al Spacek, FONOM president and mayor of Kapuskasing, met with the candidates. He said he feels positive about the meetings and hopes that the remaining leadership hopefuls will meet with FONOM in the time before the leadership convention.
“It is encouraging that some leadership candidates have met with us and committed to standing up for Ontario Northland, and FONOM hopes that the others will take this opportunity to pledge their support for Northern issues before the election.”
Leadership candidate Gerard Kennedy, and former candidate Glen Murray, who recently threw his support behind Kathleen Wynne, emphasized the need to listen to residents of Northern Ontario before making policy decision that impact them.
Candidate Harinder Takhar also expressed support and concern for Northern Ontarians.
The meetings come less than two weeks away from the Liberal leadership election, a time when the stakes are high and candidates need all the support they can get.
FONOM will be reaching out to remaining candidates over the next several days to set up meetings.