THUNDER BAY – Thunder Bay Superior North could be a riding up for grabs. Michael Gravelle, the Liberal incumbent is running in his fifth campaign and facing a challenge from Anthony LeBlanc for the Progressive Conservatives, and Steve Mantis from the New Democrats.
The major issue appears to be which direction Northwestern Ontario should go in the future. All three parties have now unveiled their ‘Northern Platforms’.
Premier Dalton McGuinty launched the Liberal’s Northern Plan yesterday. He was followed by a local announcement by Michael Gravelle and Bill Mauro in Thunder Bay. The decision by the Premier not to come to the North is, in the view of the Progressive Conservatives, evidence that the Premier still does not get the North.
The Liberals are stating that the New Democrats don’t get it.
“The NDP plan to impose a moratorium on development north of 51 would kill the Ring of Fire and destroy jobs in every Northern community. I can think of nothing more ill informed or reckless than Andrea Horwath’s job-killing plan,” said Michael Gravelle.
Bill Mauro, the Thunder Bay Atikokan MPP and Chair of the Liberal’s Northern Caucus states, “The PC response is a wonderful comment. They are obviously not wanting to speak on the substantive issues in the Liberal’s Northern Plan”.
“The Northern Plan is very much a document created by the Northern Caucus, and we are proud of what it contains,” continues Mauro.
The Liberal’s Far North Act has generated sparks on the campaign trail with concerns it two hampers development in the North.
“The Northern Mayors have always joked that Toronto politicians think Northern Ontario is anything north of Steeles Avenue, but Dalton McGuinty’s decision to launch his northern plan from the GTA is a wake-up call that he thinks the joke’s on us,” stated Anthony LeBlanc, the Thunder Bay-Superior North PC candidate.
LeBlanc’s comments come the day after local MPPs Michael Gravelle and Bill Mauro did a local launch of the Liberal’s Northern Plan.
LeBlanc commented, “The contrast was that when Tim Hudak launched Changebook North, he came to Thunder Bay. Our plan was put together by listening to Northerners, and putting in the plan what they know we all need”.
Le Blanc, in his first campaign is in a battle with Michael Gravelle the Liberal Minister of Northern Development, Mines and Forestry, and Steve Mantis with the NDP.
Thunder Bay Superior North has been tagged as one of the ridings to watch in this October’s election by the Globe and Mail. Adam Radwanski writes, “So what was once one of the safest Liberal seats in the province is now up for grabs, with Mr. Gravelle one of several northern Liberal MPPs fighting for their political lives”. (Source: Globe and Mail)
To Anthony LeBlanc, “Michael Gravelle is a nice guy, but one who has not stood up enough for the North at the McGuinty Cabinet table”. The PC candidate, in his first political campaign has been hearing a message from people who have supported the Liberals in the past that ‘not this time’.
Gravelle won the seat in 2007 by 2,436 votes. That figure was down from the largest mandate in Ontario that Gravelle won by in his first campaign where he won by 17,390 votes.
If the race is one to watch, it will mean that people are looking past Gravelle’s local standing and perhaps looking for change. The PC challenger says that what our region needs is a strong voice in government.
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