THUNDER BAY – First, I have never written a column like this, especially during election time. But I have to say that I am a big supporter of Michael Gravelle and Bill Mauro for many reasons.
Unlike other writers who fail to disclose their loyalty, I believe it’s important to be honest. That being said, I also supported the Conservative federal government because of their commitment to Thunder Bay and Northwestern Ontario during the world’s toughest economic crisis since the 1920s.
I’d like to remind people of the facts:
1) The unemployment rate in August 2011 in Canada was 7.3%. In Ontario it was 7.5%. And in Thunder Bay, it was 6.9%. The numbers speak for themselves.
2) Since 2002, because of the economic crisis, the downturn in the US housing market and the slowed demand for newsprint and lumber, approximately 400 mills were closed across Canada—even in provinces like Quebec and BC where their hydro rates were the lowest. To insinuate that Michael Gravelle and Bill Mauro were responsible is unfair.
Retraining and education upgrading programs introduced by the Liberal government helped provide opportunities for future employment. We speak—they listen.
3) Other political parties want you to believe we are facing doom and gloom. They would have you believe that there are no jobs, there is no future and there is no hope. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Housing prices are up, construction is booming and our unemployment rate is one of the lowest in Canada. Projects like the twinning of the highway, the courthouse, the law school, the medical school, the waterfront, investments in companies like Bombardier, Abitibi Bowater, Rentech, Tornado etc…indicate the tremendous provincial commitment and belief in the future of Thunder Bay and Northwestern Ontario.
Young people are NOT leaving— they are working and they are hopeful about our future. Newly developed areas like education, health care and the knowledge-based sector are redefining our city and region in terms of opportunity.
4) The Mining Act has been heavily criticized despite the fact that Northern Ontario is experiencing an unprecedented boom in exploration. In fact, we are the leading jurisdiction for exploration in Canada. This has all happened in the last five years when our economy was at its worst. Let me remind everyone that the Minister responsible for mining is Michael Gravelle — actions speak louder than words.
Are Bill Mauro and Michael Gravelle perfect? By all means no. Are we happy with all the decisions that are made? No. But, when I look at all the jobs that have been created, when I look at the infrastructure projects, the mining boom, the hope and positive feeling that has been created, and especially when I look at the facts. Our city and region has done extremely well considering the economic challenges the world is facing.
I cannot let negative and misleading letters cloud or distort the truth. The future of Thunder Bay and Northwestern Ontario is too important to allow emotions to cloud the facts. The word change has been tossed around, as has the word respect.
Our city and region has never experienced so much positive change and we have never received so much respect from a political party in large thanks to the tremendous efforts of Michael Gravelle and Bill Mauro — and that’s a fact.
Councillor for the great city of Thunder Bay
Photo by Deborah DeBakker