How things are going in Thunder Bay… Great work on the ground, silence from the Premier

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twitterTHUNDER BAY – Over the past twenty-four hours, thinking about how things are going in Thunder Bay…

Let us, as a community keep working together to make a difference! Checking out social media, and also reading some of the comments on various postings, on Facebook, I am wondering how much some of the critics are doing, other than being critical of everything everyone is doing to help in an official capacity. Let us be blunt, our Thunder Bay team is doing a lot of what is needed to help move forward. Keeping a positive attitude will help too.

While the efforts to clean up in impacted neighbourhoods continue, the reality that Thunder Bay remains at the beginning of the recovery were made clear by city officials this morning. Darrell Matson and Tim Commisso stated, in a radio interview on CBC’s Superior Morning, that it will be up to a month before the water treatment plant and pumping station are back up to speed.

The efforts at conservation of water in the city are going to be needed for a long time to come. That puts in place a scenario that will likely have many residents starting to forget or in some cases ignore the requested conservation efforts not to fire excessive amounts of water down the drains into the over-burdened system.

That reality places greater pressure on the City of Thunder Bay, and on the Province of Ontario to step up to make things happen.

The immediate recovery steps are in place, and have functioned amazingly well.

There remains however gaps in the recovery. One for example is coming via Premier Dalton McGuinty. In an editorial titled “Hey Dalton, remember Thunder Bay?”, the Liberal party press secretary responded on Twitter. “Media Office @LibPressSec @NetNewsLedger Hi James – so you know the Premier spoke w/ Mayor Hobbes last week & @MichaelGravelle & MPP Mauro have been sharing updates”.

That is hardly the point. The Premier stepped up very quickly over the fires in Timmins. Then over the weekend he stepped up immediately to issue statements on the shootings in Toronto.

The power of the Premier’s office is one that could have shared the fact that Thunder Bay needs help right now. However with the comments from the Liberals that a call to the Mayor, who they don’t even know how to spell his name right, and saying that our two MPPs sharing updates is good enough speaks volumes about the attitude in the Premier’s office about Northwestern Ontario.

Even in sharing the situation in a statement, the Premier could be adding the information that donations to the Red Cross and to the Salvation Army can be made by fellow Ontarians.

Instead the message of silence plays.

At the City of Thunder Bay level, the fallout from the flooding is going to be with our community for a long time. Likely two plus years from now it will be an issue in the civic election. In the shorter run, likely the recovery efforts are going to end, at least for now, debate and discussion about an Event Centre.

City Council and Administration are going to have to focus their time, talent and treasure on making sure repairs are made to the pumping station, and then likely to ensure that this kind of situation will never happen again. There will likely be millions needed for those efforts.

Political fallout is likely for any politician who is seen as not focused on those key efforts.

In a minority government situation, Dalton McGuinty’s faux pax over issuing a statement on the flooding may have impact on our two MPPs. If you wish to expand the issue further, at the provincial level, Tim Hudak has remained quiet. Andrea Horwath came out almost immediately sharing her thoughts and concerns.

At the federal level, in terms of public comment, the silence is equal. Our two federal MPs have garnered promises of assistance from the Conservatives. However the Prime Minister has not stepped up to make a statement. None of the federal leaders have.

What is fortunate in the city is that we have people with a giant heart who have donated, volunteered and are likely to continue to do so.

That many political leaders have taken the route of silence speaks volumes.

James Murray

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