Unless reversed by parliamentary action during the next few weeks, changes proposed in and by the recent Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission report (Fort Frances Times, April 2) will drastically alter the political landscape in Northwest Ontario.
Meanwhile, the mere existence of that proposal has effectively consigned our area to a political limbo of sorts.
As part of the Lake of the Woods watershed, the Rainy River riding shares fundamental concerns with the Kenora riding. Those concerns range from timber, trains, tourism, and aboriginal matters to border crossing, fishing, hunting, and IJC lake level issues.
The commission inexplicably proposes, however, to merge the Rainy River riding with the behemoth sitting at the head of the Great Lakes watershed. Thunder Bay concerns range from shipbuilding, grain storage, and wheat exports to maritime ports and medical schools.
There should be no question as to whose issues and concerns would appear near the bottom of any priority list prepared in Thunder Bay.
The commission proposal would change our voice. MPP Howard Hampton and MP Robert Nault would no longer function as our parliamentary representatives in Toronto and Ottawa, respectively.
Both thoroughly understand our concerns and both support our local agenda. Both are motivated to act in our best interests at all times because those interests are common throughout the Lake-of-the-Woods watershed.
Additionally, in his capacity as minister, Mr. Nault brings invaluable insight, experience, knowledge, influence, and prestige to our district. Losing Minister Nault as our champion in Ottawa would be a particularly cruel blow to our community, including the “Re-Inventing Fort Frances” program.
For these reasons and more, the commission’s proposal is irrational, unwarranted, and detrimental to the future of our area. Accordingly, we urge local government, civic groups, and individuals to petition the Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission, at 150 York St., Suite 1210, Toronto, Ont., M5H 3S5 (1-416-306-2207), for reversal of its proposal.