Northern Ontario Government Worthy of Consideration

Blog, Municipal Government, Steve Lafleur

Ontario Liberal Party leadership candidate Glen Murray recently announced that as Premier, he would create a Northern Ontario government. This is an idea worthy of consideration. While the details of his proposal have not been fleshed out, giving Northern Ontarians more direct influence over policies of local interest is a worthy goal. This falls perfectly in line with the line of argument I made in my recent study, where I argued for greater fiscal decentralization. Residents of Sudbury are better placed to make decisions that affect their city than politicians in Toronto. While not as well positioned to make decisions on issues concerning North Bay or Thunder Bay, Sudburians are still better placed to influence these decisions than Ottawans. As former Mayor of Winnipeg, Murray likely understands this better than his Southern Ontario counterparts, who have likely spent far less time in Northern Ontario.

While I cannot endorse the proposal without further details, there is a serious need for a debate on the future of Northern Ontario. My inclination is that provincehood would make sense for Northern Ontario. The region is continually subjected to harmful policies driven by Southern Ontario politicians. For their endurance, they are rewarded with counterproductive regional economic development programs. The region would be better off with greater autonomy, and this proposal seems like a starting point.