Premier Kathleen Wynne’s itinerary for the Rainy River District showed just how out of touch she is with Northwestern Ontario residents.
During the handful of hours she visited Rainy River District yesterday, all of her time was controlled so that she would only meet with selected groups, some behind closed doors.
When her announcement that she was visiting Fort Frances on Aug. 9 was posted on the Times’ Facebook page, a great many readers responded hoping that they would be able to present their hydro bills to the premier.
The spike in hydro rates has had a devastating impact on all the citizens of the Rainy River district and for many has made life extremely difficult as annual family electrical bills have soared to over $10,000 a year.
Instead district residents were clearly shown in the itinerary that the premier had no intention of listening to regular Northern Ontario folk.
This tour of the north, as Premier Wynne has indicated, is an annual affair to hear from northerners about issues that face them. There are lots of issues affecting district residents that are not just confined to energy, but also include health, education, highways, senior care, and public transportation to regional centres.
Almost two years ago, district residents flew to Toronto to meet with Liberal cabinet members and other political leaders in the provincial legislature. They group petitioned and knocked on doors to have the licences from the Crossroute forest repurposed and made available as a community forest for the First Nations and municipalities of the district.
It was hoped that by removing the licence from Resolute Forest Products, new opportunities for the fibre would be made available. The lobbying and the analysis for taking the wood from a non-operating mill, simply fell on deaf ears at Queen’s Park under the Liberal leadership of Kathleen Wynne.
There are lots of issues that are faced by the residents of the Rainy River District and Northwestern Ontario, but until the premier makes herself available to the public, it is clear she doesn’t want to hear about them.