Northern Ontario needs to be heard
September 18, 2007
Communities and workers in Northern Ontario are being stripped of their right to make a living from the natural resources they have depended on for the last hundred years or more. Government policies are allowing corporations to pull the rug from under our feet without even giving us a chance to catch our breath.
I am not suggesting our governments shouldn't play ball with multinationals. I am suggesting that communities that have contributed to the enormous wealth of this province should not be excluded from the game.
It is not just economic realities that are causing hardship in the forest industry. Decisions made by upper levels of government and the utter failure of multinational corporations to foresee the need to adapt, modify and invest in existing facilities to compete globally are at fault.
Many forestry giants have acquired huge debt from bad business decisions and are finding it extremely difficult to make interest payments let alone profit these days. Communities in Northern Ontario unjustly have no control over the management of their natural resources, and are going down with the ship.
Who is feeling the biggest impact of these bad business decisions? Families suffer the job loss while communities struggle with their own sustainability.
Lower electricity rates, without question, are needed to revive the forest industry and to keep mining companies interested in operating in Northern Ontario. Several hydro dams that were originally attached to paper mills to provide cheap reliable electricity are now being separated to sell power onto the grid to the highest bidder. This government sits idly by as it all unfolds.
Our natural resources belong to the people of Ontario not to corporations. We need to find solutions that will benefit more than just the multinationals and the investment community.
We need more visionaries to make the available opportunities come to life. We need to get control of our natural resources before there is nothing left for future generations.
Let us add value to our natural resources right here in Northern Ontario rather than continue exporting them in raw form. Resource based communities should have control and access to the natural resources that have driven our economy for so long to see what we can do with them. It can't possibly turn out to be worse than it has under existing corporate control.
I appeal to Northern Ontario community leaders to work together in order to gain the necessary collective influence to change provincial government policies and to find solutions that will benefit all stakeholders.
Let's educate ourselves and vote on the issues rather than on traditional political party lines on this very important October 10 provincial election. Our future depends on it.
Al Simard – STRONG President
RR#2, Lot 3, Con 9