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Not Ontario, not Manitoba, but Mantario


March 16, 2006
By Pulp & Paper Canada

Whenever the issue of separatism is brought up, at least in a political sense, one immediately thinks of Quebec. Ho…

Whenever the issue of separatism is brought up, at least in a political sense, one immediately thinks of Quebec. However, according to a recent report by the Chronicle Herald, this may no longer be accurate.

“This past year has seen full or partial closures of pulp and paper mills in Canada, 13 of them in Ontario,” the paper acknowledged. “Rather than yearning to leave Canada,” the report said of citizen sentiment in the eastern province, “they want to leave their province and join Manitoba next door.” Citing frustration with the dire situation of their main industry, pulp and paper, and the lack of attention and aid being directed to the problem, the Chronicle Herald reported that ‘separatist fervour’ is hitting Ontario hard.

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“We have to do something or there will be nobody left up here,” the Herald reported Kenora mayor Dave Canfield as saying. Local politicians have gone so far as to establish a group to evaluate whether or not they would be better off leaving Ontario altogether.

‘Dalton McGuinty, Ontario’s premier, seems to be taking this threat seriously,’ the Herald reported. ‘On a flying visit in late February, he flagged up a $220 million package to subsidize roadbuilding and to lower the stumpage fees charged by the province for felling trees. This followed two other schemes worth a combined $680 million.’

Not everyone in northwestern Ontario is taking the bait, however. Energy rates, which cost twice what they do in Quebec or Manitoba, remain a sore spot in the province. The three-year price cap on prices for industrial users has done little to alleviate the pressure.

Although McGuinty has conceded to consider local price differentials, nothing concrete has been confirmed.

As the Herald addressed, ‘the northwest, self-sufficient in power, objects to paying for expensive nuclear power plants near Lake Ontario, built to meet southern demand.’

The report further indicated that joining Manitoba offers not only an economic lure, but a potential political one as well, considering that Manitoba boasts a population of only 1.2 million people, compared to Ontario’s 12.6 million, and as such, ‘northwesterners would become a much bigger fish in a smaller pond.’

‘Secessionist sentiment in northwest Ontario has waxed and waned before,’ the report said. ‘But Livio di Matteo, an economist at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, says it has never before been so strong. He would prefer more autonomy within Ontario, but accepts that there would be political benefits in joining Manitoba to form a new province called, perhaps, Mantario.’

Source: The Chronicle Herald


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