Should MPP Bill Mauro be Worried?

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THUNDER BAY – Liberal MPP Bill Mauro must feel as if there is a great big NDP target pinned to the back of his jacket. The Thunder Bay MPP was re-elected in the tightest race in the region’s history almost three years ago.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath has been in Thunder Bay, and speaking of northern issues so much local residents could start thinking that she is the area’s representative.

The tight contest between Mauro and Rafferty in the last provincial election ended up with Rafferty winning the federal election in 2008.

The federal win by the NDP seems to have opened the door for the NDP to believe that the party can win in Thunder Bay.

Horwath has been in Thunder Bay on the HST, healthcare, the budget, and a multitude of issues.

If one looks at political history, it is likely that the McGuinty Government won’t form a third majority government. Governing today seems to wear out governments, and politicians at a faster rate than in the past.

Perhaps it is the massive media coverage, or perhaps it is that people expect their politicians to honour the promises they make, and see through the spin faster today than ever before.

In Thunder Bay, Premier Dalton McGuinty promised, in September 2007 that “Ontario would lead the world in the production of hydrogen trains”. Since that date, a Google search for “McGuinty and Hydrogen” demonstrates that since making that promise, McGuinty has become silent on the issue.

Sadly for Thunder Bay, the Premier’s promise that could have solidified a future with research, development, engineering and manufacturing of hydrogen powered rails seems to have been only words.

Ontario was not well represented at the latest international conference on hydrail. None of the presenters were from Canada. The Sixth International Hydrail Conference was held 1-2 July, 2010, at Bahcesehir University in Istanbul, Turkey. The conference was hosted by Istanbul-basedInternational Centre for Hydrogen Energy TechnologiesAppalachian State University Energy Center (Boone, North Carolina, USA) and the Hydrogen Economy Advancement Team at the Mooresville-South Iredell Economic Development Corporation (Mooresville, North Carolina, USA).

The International Centre for Hydrogen Energy Technologies (ICHET) is a project of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) founded in Istanbul in 2004 and supported by the Turkish Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources. Its role is to to support, demonstrate and promote viable hydrogen technologies, particularly in emerging countries, so as to enhance their future economic development, prevent the widening of the energy and technology gap with the developed one while helping skipping over the fossil fuel phase.

This international conference could have been held in Thunder Bay, but apparently there was little interest from anyone in the McGuinty Government.

Some of the wisest words I have ever heard are, “Your actions are speaking so loudly, I can’t hear what you are saying”.

For Premier Dalton McGuinty, that saying, one my Grandmother used, applies almost as if it were a tailor-made designer coat.

For Thunder Bay, the lost opportunities to be part of the world’s leaders in hydrogen and alternative fuel research are slipping away.

We are seeing repeated paid advertising about the many millions of dollars that the McGuinty Government is pouring into Thunder Bay. The new Courthouse for downtown Fort William is one example.

What appears lost on the McGuinty Government is that government spending really is not producing anything. Once the mini-boom of construction is over, we have a building, and a new home for the courthouse.

What however we won’t have are long-term jobs and the promise of prosperous times.

Likely it is the combination of broken promises, and rose-coloured glasses visions for the North that have the NDP viewing Thunder Bay with hope for 2011.

For Bill Mauro, chances are deep inside he is already worried, and perhaps even looking for his next steps in his long career.

That of course is just my opinion, as always, your mileage may vary.

James Murray

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