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Tough pill


You’ll have to forgive district residents for feeling a little heady these days.

First, Premier Kathleen Wynne graced us with her presence during a quick stopover back on Aug. 9, when she visited New Gold’s Rainy River Project before spending some time in town at the UNFC’s “Circle of Life” building and the Sunset Country Métis Hall, as well as meeting Fort Frances Mayor Roy Avis and Couchiching Chief Brian Perrault, among others.

While here, she lauded the mining project located north of Barwick while also taking time to address the wood supply issue and skyrocketing hydro rates.

Then this week, Ontario Progressive Conservative leader Patrick Brown dropped in—meeting with town council and other municipal reps, as well as Chief Perrault, while also visiting the Fort Frances Fire Hall, the sturgeon hatchery at Rainy River First Nations, and New Gold’s mine site.

Predictably, Mr. Brown brought the message that Northern Ontario will “have a voice in an Ontario PC government,” saying he believes Northern Ontario isn’t being listened to and that Queen’s Park is “oblivious” to the concerns of the region, citing high energy prices, physician shortages, “huge infrastructure deficits,” and steep job losses in the forestry sector as examples.

“If Premier Wynne is not going to stand up for Northern Ontario, then our official opposition is willing to,” Mr. Brown pledged, noting he gets up in the legislature every week asking questions about Northern Ontario, as does the party’s MPP from North Bay, Vic Fedeli, who he described as a “passionate northerner.”

With our area getting all this attention from the premier and the leader of the official opposition, however fleeting, it’s painfully obvious our own MPP has been largely silent on the many pressing issues facing district residents of late.

Yes, Kenora-Rainy River is a huge riding geographically and Sarah Campbell has to juggle a wide range of constituents’ concerns, not to mention professional and personal commitments.

But while she’s recently condemned the ongoing mercury contamination at Grassy Narrows and pushed for the continued twinning of the Trans-Canada Highway, Ms. Campbell has been far less visible—and vocal—in working to resurrect the mill here, going to bat for residents and companies facing exorbitant hydro rates, and tackling the physician shortage.

Granted, she is limited in her role as a third-party MPP, as opposed to serving in government, but that doesn’t mean her hands are tied completely. There’s no question, however, that the Ms. Campbell who burst onto the scene after succeeding longtime NDP MPP Howard Hampton in 2011, and then won re-election in 2014 by a wide margin, has been missing in action lately—at least as far as this end of the riding is concerned.

District residents are used to our remote corner of the province being ignored at Queen’s Park.

It’s a much tougher pill to swallow when our own MPP appears to be just as guilty.

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