KENORA – LEADER’S LEDGER – This October, Northerners and Canadians have a very important decision to make. It’s the time when Canadians have the opportunity to exercise their democratic right and vote for who they believe can best represent them in Ottawa on the issues that matter most to them. Canadians will also be voting as to which national political party they believe best represents their views and who they trust will take Canadians to where they want to be in the future.
A variety of things factor into this decision and it is not a decision they take lightly. Nationally, the Liberal campaign theme for this election is Choose Forward, which I believe best represents where we were four years ago as a country, and where we are now. I want to take this opportunity to let you know what Choose Forward means to me.
For years, under Stephen Harper Conservatives, we saw the North falling further and further behind. We weren’t making any progress in building our region economically, and Northerners suffered the consequences. Infrastructure like roads, water treatment plants, and public spaces like parks, didn’t receive the needed investments required to keep them in good condition, much less than improve them. They failed to see the importance of funding the Experimental Lakes Area, which is integral not only to the North, but their research is recognized worldwide. They failed to see how important it is to protect our environment and that is exactly why they made the decision to defund the Experimental Lakes Area. I choose to invest in Northerners and I choose to look forward. It’s as simple as that.
On the provincial side, Doug Ford’s Ontario’s provincial conservatives continue to make Stephen Harper-like cuts, by literally slashing funding to public libraries, threatening to close rural schools like the one in Ignace, and slowing down tri-lateral infrastructure projects by refusing to abide by a federal/provincial funding agreement that was already in place by well over a year. Doug Ford chose politics over people. And now the people of Ontario have caught on, and as a result, Doug Ford’s approval ratings have sunk to some of the lowest numbers ever seen within his very first year as Premier of Ontario.
That’s why federal conservative leader, Andrew Sheer, has dissociated himself from Mr. Ford. Recently, Andrew Scheer was asked how he felt about Doug Ford. Not only did Andrew Scheer not answer the question, he chose to dodge the question completely. He even failed/refused to mention Doug Ford’s name in follow-up questions.
Ontarians simply are tired of Ford’s lack of vision for the province. What they wanted was a Premier who gets his priorities right, not a premier who after shortly being elected, announced that his first priority was to defeat the Prime Minister. Mr. Ford’s first priority as Ontario’s Premier should have been to you, your children, and to all people of Ontario.
Choose Forward means that we’ll continue in the right direction which we started in 2015. For example, the Canada Child Benefit has been an outstanding success. It has put more money in the hands of families and has lifted over 300,000 children out of poverty. In addition, more students in the Kenora riding are now getting the important on-the-job experience through the highly-successful Canada Summer Jobs program. When our youth are given the opportunity to work in real-life modern work environments at a young age, they gain insight and skills they need to help build as they move through life to advance their careers.
Locally, we are continuing to make the North even stronger by making investments that grow our local, regional, and national economies. By investing in people and businesses in Northwestern Ontario, the goal is to make the riding an even greater place to live and raise a family. Over the last four years, our municipalities alone have seen over $46 million in investments. We’ve re-invested in the Experimental Lakes Area, made improvements to many of our regional airports, invested in 33 New Horizons for Seniors projects totalling $685,315, and we’re not done yet.
Through the Canada Summer Jobs program, 951 jobs were created which allowed students to come home for the summer. Not only did students benefit, employers were able to find and afford the workers they need during the summer rush. Add to this, over $2.6 million was invested directly back to our riding which helps stimulate our local economies in the North.
In 2018, the Kenora riding received what is the largest investment we’ve ever seen: $1.6 billion to connect First Nation communities throughout Northwestern Ontario to the electrical grid which will eliminate or reduce their reliance on diesel. The Wataynikaneyap (Watay) Power Project is also the largest and most far-reaching Indigenous-led transmission project in the history of the province owned by 22 First Nation communities. Not only is this good for the environment, but it means that for the first time, many of these communities can turn on the lights without the need for a generator.
We know there is a lot more work to be done to continue building the relationship with Indigenous peoples – one that is built on trust. As a Member of Parliament, and personally, as a Northerner, I believe we are all far better off when everyone is given an equal chance to succeed.
While there is much more we need to do, good things are happening in the Kenora riding. Good things are happening in our region and across our country. Today, Canada is rated top in the world as one of the best places to live. That didn’t happen by accident. Let’s not only keep that momentum going, let’s continue to build on it by working together.
I choose to invest in Northerners – I choose to invest in people – Let’s Choose Forward.
Bob Nault MP