It’s understandable if many district residents still feel leery over the new federal riding of Thunder Bay-Rainy River, which officially comes into being April 1.
Gone are our traditional ties with our similarly-sized neighbours to the north, like Kenora and Dryden, who share many of the same challenges and issues we do, whether revolving around forestry, natural resource management, tourism, or working together with First Nations communities—not to mention the same time zone.
Our schools are linked athletically, with the local Catholic school board encompassing Fort Frances, Dryden, and Sioux Lookout.
In a nutshell, our region features a natural north-south flow, not an east-west one. But the latter is exactly what we got last August when the Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission for Ontario opted to split the old Kenora-Rainy River riding and stick us with the former Thunder Bay-Atikokan one.
Given our pleas to leave us with Kenora fell on deaf ears, it’s no wonder there were fears our voices will be muffled by the sheer size and population of Thunder Bay.
Time will tell whether that does happen, but at least the three main political parties have gone out of their way to try and accommodate district residents when it came to choosing their respective candidates.
The new Conservative Party of Canada planned right from the get-go to hold polling stations in both Emo and Thunder Bay for its nomination vote this Friday and Saturday, respectively, while the NDP has said it will set up three next month, including at least one in Rainy River District.
And successful Liberal candidate Ken Boshcoff won his appeal to have a polling station in Fort Frances this past Sunday for that party’s nomination meeting.
It’s a good start to appease the concerns of district residents. The challenge for our eventual MP will be to build on this foundation—and not conveniently forget about us until the next election campaign rolls around.