THUNDER BAY – The Ontario Liberal Leadership candidates are meeting and debating in Thunder Bay today. The campaigns have been working in the city over the past day gathering support and sharing their ideas. Glen Murray states he will renew his call for Northern Ontario to have its own regional government when he speaks at the Ontario Liberal Leadership debate. “I want everyone in our party, and all Ontarians, to know that the North needs a stronger voice. It’s time for Northern regional government, so communities can have more authority over energy, infrastructure and natural resources,” Murray stated.
On Friday, before the debate, Thunder Bay Superior North MPP Michael Gravelle endorsed Sandra Pupatello for leader. “I strongly believe that Sandra will be a dynamic Leader of our Party and a remarkable Premier for all Ontarians” stated Gravelle. “While I have a great deal of respect and affection for all the candidates who have put their names forward, Sandra is the one who, in my opinion, will best represent the interests of Northerners. She never backs away from a fight and her vision for economic and social prosperity has always been an inspiration to me” added Gravelle.
The Murray campaign has issued several policy proposals on having regional government for Northern Ontario, a position supported by the Northern Ontario Municipal Association.
It is likely all of the candidates will be sharing their vision for the North during today’s debate. The debate will be webstreamed by the Liberals and can be viewed at www.ontarioliberal.ca/leadership
However a statement from the Glen Murray campaign says, “Murray’s plan contrasts with other Ontario Liberal Leadership challengers, who have either been silent about the North or not called for a direct, stronger voice for Northerners. A new Northern Ontario government would continue to respect Ontario’s provincial powers under Canada’s Constitution as well as the Constitutional and Treaty rights of First Nations and the Métis nation”.
Thunder Bay Atikokan MPP Bill Mauro has endorsed Pupatello as well. “I have offered my unqualified support to Sandra in this leadership race. I am certain that, as Premier, she will enable our Liberal party to continue the growth of Thunder Bay-Atikokan and Northwestern Ontario that has occurred over the past nine years,” states Mauro.
Pupatello commenting on the endorsements says, “I am incredibly grateful to have the endorsement of Michael Gravelle, to go along with the prior support I received from my former colleague from Thunder Bay, Bill Mauro. Minister Gravelle has been a tireless advocate for the concerns of Northern Ontarians since 1995. Liberals, and all of his constituents, are lucky to be represented by such a resilient fighter and worker, just as much as I am lucky to call him a friend”.