Transcript: Ontario Hubs: Northern Alienation | Oct 06, 2017

Steve sits in the studio. He's slim, clean-shaven, in his fifties, with short curly brown hair. He's wearing a gray suit, pale pink shirt, and striped purple and gray tie.

A caption on screen reads "Ontario Hubs."

Steve says EVERY FRIDAY, WE CHECK
IN WITH OUR ONTARIO HUBS TO FIND
OUT WHAT PEOPLE ACROSS THE
PROVINCE ARE TALKING ABOUT.
TONIGHT, A CHANGE OF PACE.
WE'RE PLEASED TO WELCOME
NIPISSING UNIVERSITY POLITICAL
SCIENCE PROFESSOR DAVID TABACHNICK.

An animated slate reads "Ontario Hubs." Then a man pops up with a bookcase behind him.
David is in his late thirties, balding, with a full beard. He's wearing a gray sweater and a blue shirt.

Steve continues HE IS A REGULAR ONTARIO HUBS
CONTRIBUTOR WHO HAS BEEN WORKING
ON A SERIES OF ARTICLES THAT
DELVE INTO THE QUESTION OF WHY
NORTHERN ONTARIANS FEEL
ALIENATED FROM THE REST OF THE
PROVINCE, AND HE JOINS US NOW
VIA SKYPE FROM NORTH BAY...
FROM THE GATEWAY TO THE
NORTH, NORTH BAY ONTARIO.
DAVID, GOOD TO SEE YOU AGAIN.
HOW ARE YOU DOING?

David says I'M DOING GREAT.
THANKS FOR HAVING ME.

Steve says CAN YOU DESCRIBE THE
ALIENATION THAT MANY NORTHERNERS
TEND TO FEEL FROM THE REST OF
THE PROVINCE?

The caption changes to "David Tabachnick. Nipissing University."
Then, it changes again to "More than a feeling."

David says WELL, I
THINK THAT IT'S REALLY BASED IN
A CULTURAL DIVIDE BETWEEN THE
SOUTH AND THE NORTH.
NORTHERN ONTARIO MAKES UP ABOUT
87 percent OF THE LAND MASS OF THE
PROVINCE, BUT ONLY HAS ABOUT 5 percent
OF THE POPULATION.
THIS RESULTS IN A VERY DIFFERENT
EXPERIENCE OF WHAT IT MEANS TO
BE AN ONTARIAN, MUCH DIFFERENT
THAN LET'S SAY THAT EXIST IN BIG
CITIES SUCH AS TORONTO AND
OTTAWA, AND THIS MANIFESTS IN
THE SENSE THAT QUEEN'S PARK FOR
ONE, THE WAY IT LEGISLATES, THE
WAY IT MANAGES THE ECONOMY,
DOESN'T TAKE THE CONCERNS OF
NORTHERN ONTARIO SERIOUSLY.
THEY DON'T QUITE UNDERSTAND WHAT
THE CULTURE OF THE REGION IS ALL
ABOUT.
AND I CAN GIVE YOU A COUPLE OF
EXAMPLES.

Steve says YEAH, SURE, FIRE AWAY.

A map pops up briefly showing the locations of Sudbury, West Nipissing, and North Bay.

David says JUST TO ILLUSTRATE THIS POINT.
FOR EXAMPLE, RIGHT NOW THERE'S
DEBATE ABOUT THE SPECIES AT RISK
ACT, PART OF THE ENVIRONMENTAL
REGULATIONS.
NOW, FROM A SOUTHERN ONTARIO
PERSPECTIVE, WE WOULD SAY THIS
IS A GOOD THING.
THIS IS PROTECTING ENDANGERED
SPECIES.
BUT FROM MANY NORTHERNERS'
PERSPECTIVE, THESE LAWS
REPRESENT OVERREGULATION THAT
STOP INDUSTRIES SUCH AS FORESTRY
AND MINING AND KILL JOBS.
AND SO SOMETHING THAT IS LOOKED
UPON AS A GOOD THING IN THE
SOUTH IS LOOKED UPON AS A BAD
THING IN THE NORTH.

Steve says AND SINCE MOST OF
THE VOTES ARE DOWN HERE, I GUESS
GOVERNMENTS TEND TO LISTEN TO
THE NOISE DOWN HERE MORE THAN
THE NOISE UP THERE; IS THAT RIGHT?

David says THAT'S CERTAINLY THE CASE.
AGAIN, AS I SAID, WE HAVE 5 percent OF
THE POPULATION, 11 PROVINCIAL
RIDINGS, AND WHILE THAT AT TIMES
DOES GET THE ATTENTION OF
POLITICIANS IN QUEEN'S PARK,
MOST OFTEN IT IS ISSUES RELATED
TO SOUTHERN ONTARIO THAT
DOMINATE.
THAT'S UNDERSTANDABLE IN A
PURELY MATHEMATICAL SENSE, IN A
POLITICAL SENSE.
BUT NONETHELESS, HERE WE ARE
OCCUPYING THIS HUGE PORTION OF
THE PROVINCE AND GETTING VERY
LITTLE ATTENTION.

Steve says I GUESS... I MEAN, I
HAVE CLEARLY HEARD THIS REFRAIN
OVER THE YEARS MANY, MANY TIMES.
I GUESS I WANT A BETTER SENSE
FROM YOU AS TO, OKAY, THAT'S THE
OFFICIAL LINE, THAT'S SORT OF
THE CONVENTIONAL WISDOM AND
OFFICIAL STORY.
BUT YOU LIVE THERE AND YOU'VE
DONE A LOT OF THE EMPIRICAL
RESEARCH ON A LOT OF THIS.
SO IS IT TRUE: DO NORTHERNERS
HAVE A LEGITIMATE JUSTIFIABLE
BEEF AGAINST THE CENTRE?

The caption changes to "Connect with us: @theagenda, TVO.org, Facebook, YouTube, Periscope, Instagram."

David says WELL, I WOULD SAY YES AND NO.
THAT'S AN EXCELLENT QUESTION.
YES BECAUSE I DO THINK THAT
THERE IS A MISUNDERSTANDING
ABOUT THE ECONOMY AND CULTURE OF
THE NORTH IN THE SOUTH.
A LOT OF PEOPLE, POLITICIANS
INCLUDED, THAT LIVE IN THE SOUTH
HAVE NEVER BEEN HERE.
SO THAT'S UNDERSTANDABLE THAT
THEY WOULDN'T GET IT.
ON THE OTHER HAND, IT'S NOT AS
THOUGH THE PROVINCE COMPLETELY
IGNORES THE REGION.
THERE ARE MANY DIFFERENT
PROGRAMS, BOTH ECONOMIC AND
POLITICAL, THAT ATTEMPT TO
MITIGATE OR OVERCOME SOME OF THE
ISSUES OF BEING, AGAIN, IN SUCH
A LARGE AREA WITH SUCH A SMALL
POPULATION.

Steve says LET'S TALK ABOUT
SOMETHING THAT SORT OF EXPLODED
A LITTLE BIT AT THE LEGISLATURE
OVER THE LAST WEEK OR SO, AND I
DON'T KNOW WHO'S RIGHT AND I
DON'T KNOW WHO'S WRONG ON THIS.
I'M GOING TO LAY THE FACT OUT
THERE AND WE CAN LET EVERYBODY
ELSE MAKE UP THEIR OWN MINDS.
THERE WAS DEBATE IN THE
LEGISLATURE AND THERE WAS
HECKLING BACK AND FORTH AND A
LIBERAL MPP FROM DOWN IN THE
SOUTH, LOU RINALDI, HE WAS
CAUGHT SAYING THE EXPRESSION NO
MAN'S LAND AND THE TORIES
INSTANTLY ACCUSED HIM OF
REFERRING TO NORTHERN ONTARIO AS
NO MAN'S LAND, WHICH IS WHAT THE
SUBJECT OF THE DISCUSSION WAS
ABOUT AT THE TIME.
HE SAID HE WAS REFERRING TO PC
LEADER PATRICK BROWN'S RESPONSE
ON THE ISSUE AND SO HE WAS IN NO
MAN'S LAND ON THE ISSUE.
YOU BASICALLY SAID AN INCIDENT
LIKE THIS EXACERBATES
NORTHERNERS' ALREADY
THIN-SKINNED FEELINGS ON MANY THINGS.
WHAT ARE YOU TRYING TO SAY THERE?

David says WELL, I THINK THAT WHY IT HIT
HOME, IF YOU WILL, THIS COMMENT
ABOUT NO MAN'S LAND, WHY
NORTHERN MPPs JUMPED ALL OVER
IT, IS THAT THERE'S SOME TRUTH
TO IT.
THE POPULATION OF THE NORTH IS
ACTUALLY IN DECLINE, SO IT'S
ALREADY A RATHER SPARSELY
POPULATED REGION.
BUT THE LATEST STATISTICS CANADA
REPORT SHOWS THAT IN FACT THE
POPULATION IS DECLINING WHILE
THE REST OF THE PROVINCE, MOSTLY
IN SOUTHERN ONTARIO, IS GROWING.
SO WHEN WE SAY NO MAN'S LAND,
THAT'S BECOMING MORE AND MORE A
REALITY AS THE REGION EMPTIES OUT.

Steve says I KNOW A NUMBER OF
MONTHS AGO I INTERVIEWED A BUS
DRIVER, I THINK FROM YOUR TOWN,
WHO WANTS TO LEAD A SEPARATIST
PARTY IN NORTHERN ONTARIO.
IS THAT MOVEMENT GAINING ANY
TRACTION, THAT YOU CAN DISCERN?

David says YES.
THIS IS THE NORTHERN ONTARIO PARTY.
IT'S SORT OF A REBRANDING OF THE
OLDER NORTHERN ONTARIO HERITAGE
PARTY.
THEIR PLATFORM IS ESSENTIALLY TO
CREATE A SEPARATE PROVINCE OF
NORTHERN ONTARIO, AND THIS IS
LED BY I THINK HIS NAME IS
TREVOR HOLADAY.
YES, I WOULD SAY IT HAS
CERTAINLY GOT A LOT OF ATTENTION
AND AT LEAST WHEN YOU CHAT WITH
PEOPLE, YOU HEAR THAT THEY DO
HAVE SUPPORT.
I REALLY FEEL AS THOUGH THAT
SUPPORT IS MORE OF A PROTEST
VOTE THAN AN SERIOUS EFFORT TO
CREATE A SEPARATE PROVINCE OF
NORTHERN ONTARIO.
BUT IT IS A REFLECTION OF THIS
GENERAL SENSE OF ALIENATION AND
RESENTMENT THAT WE'VE BEEN
TALKING ABOUT.

Steve says I'VE GOT TO ASK THE
FOLLOW-UP QUESTION, WHICH IS: DO
YOU THINK THE MAJORITY OF PEOPLE
IN NORTHERN ONTARIO THINK THAT
THAT REGION OF THE CURRENT
PROVINCE OF ONTARIO WOULD DO
BETTER, IN EVERY WAY YOU CAN
IMAGINE THAT, IF IT WERE ITS OWN PROVINCE?

The caption changes to "Geography is destiny?"

David says I DON'T THINK SO.
I DON'T THINK THAT IT WOULD HAVE
MAJORITY SUPPORT AND I WOULD BE
VERY SURPRISED TO SEE THE
NORTHERN ONTARIO PARTY ELECT A
MEMBER TO THE LEGISLATURE.
IT'S ONLY RUNNING, OF COURSE, IN
THE NORTHERN ONTARIO RIDINGS,
THE 11 NORTHERN ONTARIO RIDINGS,
BUT WE'LL HAVE TO WAIT AND SEE.
THAT WOULD BE QUITE AN
INTERESTING DEVELOPMENT.
I THINK MOST NORTHERNERS, AGAIN,
LIKE THE IDEA OF A SEPARATE
PROVINCE, BUT IN ACTUAL
PRACTICE, I THINK IT WOULD BE
QUITE DIFFICULT.
LET'S LEAVE ALONE THE IDEA THAT
WE WOULD NEED A CONSTITUTIONAL
AMENDMENT TO MAKE IT HAPPEN.
ONE OF THE MAJOR ISSUES IS THAT
THE VERY THINGS THAT MANY
NORTHERNERS ARE ANGRY ABOUT AT
QUEEN'S PARK... FOR EXAMPLE,
THERE'S SOMETHING CALLED THE FAR
NORTH ACT, WHICH AGAIN IS A
REGULATION THAT STOPS
DEVELOPMENT IN THE FAR NORTH.
THAT'S A REFLECTION OF THE NEED
TO CONSULT WITH FIRST NATIONS
COMMUNITIES WHEN IT COMES TO
THINGS, LET'S SAY, LIKE MINING
DEVELOPMENT.
A SEPARATE PROVINCE OF NORTHERN
ONTARIO WOULD BE OBLIGED AGAIN
TO ENGAGE IN THE EXACT SAME
CONSULTATIONS.
SO IT'S NOT AS THOUGH A SEPARATE
PROVINCE OF NORTHERN ONTARIO
WOULD SUDDENLY BE FREED OF THESE
SAME OBLIGATIONS THAT ARE COMING
UP AT QUEEN'S PARK.
THE SAME THINGS THAT STYMIE
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND NATURAL
RESOURCE DEVELOPMENT IN OUR
REGION WOULD REMAIN IN A
SEPARATE PROVINCE.

Steve says AGAIN, NOT MEANING
TO STEREOTYPE HERE BUT LET'S DO
A SPECIFIC EXAMPLE.
YOU KNOW, THE COMPANY THAT WANTS
TO MAKE THE ENERGY EAST PIPELINE
THING HAPPEN HAS ANNOUNCED IT'S
NOT GOING FORWARD.
I'M SURE SOUTH OF THE FRENCH
RIVER THERE ARE PLENTY OF
ENVIRONMENTALISTS WHO ARE
THRILLED AT THIS DEVELOPMENT.
HOW ABOUT IN NORTH BAY?
WAS IT A BIG ISSUE UP THERE?

A screenshot from the TVO website pops up showing an article. It reads "tvo.org/current-affairs, Why Ontario must take action on the Energy East pipeline, by David Tabachnick."

David says WELL, THIS IS A BIT OF A
UNIQUE SITUATION FOR NORTH BAY
BECAUSE THE ENERGY EAST ROUTE AS
IT WAS PROPOSED WAS GOING TO GO
RIGHT BESIDE, IF NOT THROUGH,
OUR WATERSHED, THE TROUT LAKE
WATERSHED, WHERE NORTH BAY GETS
ITS DRINKING WATER FROM.
THE CONCERN WAS THAT IF THERE
WAS GOING TO BE A SPILL OUT OF
THAT PIPELINE, DUE TO THE NATURE
OF OUR WEATHER AND THE GEOGRAPHY
OF THE LAKE, IT COULD HAVE
DEVASTATING CONSEQUENCES ON OUR
DRINKING WATER SOURCE AND REALLY
IMPERIL THE FUTURE OF THE CITY.
SO THERE WAS UNIVERSAL PROTESTS
AGAINST THE ENERGY EAST PIPELINE
IN NORTH BAY.
THE PROBLEM WAS, FROM OUR
PERSPECTIVE, IS THAT QUEEN'S
PARK DID NOT SEEM PARTICULARLY
INTERESTED IN CALLING FOR A
REROUTING OF THAT PIPELINE.
THEY WERE INTERESTED, AGAIN, IN
THINGS LIKE PROTECTING NORTHERN
SPECIES AND NORTHERN FORESTS,
BUT WHEN IT CAME TO THE PEOPLE
OF NORTH BAY, THERE WAS SILENCE.

Steve says LET ME DO ANOTHER
SORT OF PARADOXICAL ISSUE HERE,
AND I KNOW NORTHERNERS SOMETIMES
GET UPSET WITH ME WHEN I RAISE
THIS, BUT I'M JUST ADVANCING THE
FACTS HERE.
THESE ARE JUST THE FACTS AND
PEOPLE CAN MAKE UP THEIR OWN
MINDS.
NORTHERN ONTARIO, IF A BILL
CURRENTLY BEFORE THE LEGISLATURE
PASSES, WILL GET TWO MORE
RIDINGS, ACTUALLY, AND THEY WILL
BE TWO MORE VERY SPARSELY
POPULATED RIDINGS.
THERE ARE RIDINGS DOWN HERE IN
THE SOUTH THAT HAVE 120,000,
130,000 PEOPLE IN THEM, AND THE
TWO NEW NORTHERN RIDINGS ARE
GOING TO HAVE ABOUT 30,000
PEOPLE IN THEM.
SO IN EFFECT, THE NORTH WILL BE,
IF YOU LOOK STRICTLY AT THE
NUMBERS, OVERREPRESENTED IN THE
LEGISLATURE OF THE PROVINCE OF
ONTARIO.
DO PEOPLE UNDERSTAND THAT IN
NORTHERN ONTARIO?

The caption changes to "The paradox of Northern Ontario."

David says I'M GOING TO CHALLENGE YOUR
CHARACTERIZATION TO SOME DEGREE.

Steve says OKAY.

David says AGAIN, WHEN WE'RE DOING
DISTRICTING, WHEN WE'RE DOING
REDISTRICTING AND CREATING NEW
RIDINGS, IT'S NOT JUST ABOUT
REPRESENTATION BY POPULATION.
THERE ALSO HAS TO BE REGIONAL
CONSIDERATIONS TAKEN INTO
ACCOUNT.
AND SO THAT'S WHAT'S GOING ON
HERE WITH THESE TWO NEW RIDINGS.
ONE OF THE RIDINGS, FOR EXAMPLE,
IS ATTEMPTING TO ENSURE MORE
FIRST NATIONS REPRESENTATION.
THE RIDING WILL HAVE ABOUT
TWO-THIRDS POPULATION OF FIRST
NATIONS PEOPLE.
IS THIS JUST ABOUT
REPRESENTATION BY POPULATION?
NO.

Another screenshot from the TVO website pops up showing an article. It reads "tvo.org/current-affairs, The north wants in: Why new ridings in Ontario's most remote region won't curb northern alienation. By David Tabachnick."

David continues IT'S ALSO THIS CONSIDERATION
ABOUT HAVING THE PEOPLE OF A
REGION REPRESENTED IN QUEEN'S
PARK, AN UNDERREPRESENTED GROUP
PERHAPS.
LIKEWISE, WHEN YOU LOOK AT SOME
OF THE RIDINGS UP HERE IN
NORTHERN ONTARIO, THEY ARE
MASSIVE.
KENORA-RAINY RIVER, FOR EXAMPLE,
IS ABOUT THE SIZE OF GERMANY.
AND IF YOU JUST LOOK AT IT IN A
SORT OF LOGICAL WAY, WHY SHOULD
A FEW SQUARE BLOCKS OF DOWNTOWN
TORONTO HAVE THE SAME INFLUENCE
AS THIS MASSIVE AREA EVEN THOUGH
IT'S SPARSELY POPULATED?
SO I THINK THE ATTEMPT IS TO
RECOGNIZE THESE REGIONAL
CONCERNS.
NOW, I WILL ALSO POINT OUT IN
THIS NEXT ELECTION, DESPITE
HAVING TWO ADDITIONAL NORTHERN
ONTARIO RIDINGS, WE ARE GOING TO
ADD 15 RIDINGS TO THE SOUTH.
SO EVEN THOUGH WE MAY THINK
WE'RE GETTING MORE INFLUENCE, OF
COURSE IN RELATIVE TERMS, OUR
INFLUENCE WILL DECLINE ALL THE MORE.

Steve says JUST FOR THE RECORD,
I DIDN'T MEAN TO CONVEY THAT I
EITHER APPROVE OR DISAPPROVE ONE
WAY OR ANOTHER OF IT.
YOU'RE QUITE RIGHT TO POINT OUT
THERE ARE OTHER CONSIDERATIONS
ASIDE FROM STRICT REP BY POP.
I WANT TO PUT THAT OUT THERE FOR
THE RECORD.
WE'VE KNOWN FOR DECADES AND
DECADES, THERE'S KIND OF A
LOVE-HATE IN NORTHERN ONTARIO
FOR QUEEN'S PARK.
I WONDER AS WELL WHETHER THERE
IS AN ACKNOWLEDGMENT IN NORTHERN
ONTARIO THAT SO MUCH OF THE
ECONOMY REALLY DEPENDS ON THE
PERMANENT PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT
JOBS THAT ARE THERE, BE IT, YOU
KNOW, THE ONTARIO LOT ITALY
CORPORATION IN SAULT STE. MARIE
OR WHATEVER.
TELL US THAT.

Another screenshot from the TVO website pops up showing an article. It reads "tvo.org/current-affairs, Support us, but leave us alone: northern Ontario's paradox. By David Tabachnick."

David says WELL, I AGREE WITH YOU THERE
COMPLETELY.
YES, WE ARE VERY RELIANT ON WHAT
I'LL CALL GOVERNMENT LARGESSE.
HERE IN NORTH BAY, FOR EXAMPLE,
WE'VE BENEFITED TREMENDOUSLY
FROM A FILM AND TELEVISION TAX
CREDIT THAT HAS BROUGHT A LOT OF
TELEVISION PRODUCTIONS, FILM
PRODUCTIONS TO OUR CITY.
IT TRAINS AND EMPLOYS HUNDREDS
OF OUR CITIZENS, BRINGS MILLIONS
OF DOLLARS INTO OUR CITY,
SUDBURY SIMILARLY HAS SEEN A
HUGE RISE IN FILM PRODUCTIONS IN
ITS CITY, AND AGAIN, THIS BRINGS
IN DOLLARS AND JOBS.
THAT'S ALL BASED UPON POLICIES
THAT ARE COMING OUT OF QUEEN'S
PARK.
SIMILARLY, HERE IN NORTH BAY, WE
HAVE THE ONTARIO NORTHLAND
TRANSPORTATION COMMISSION, AND
THAT IS A PROVINCIAL AGENCY,
ESSENTIALLY A CROWN CORPORATION,
AND IT DOESN'T NECESSARILY BRING
A LOT OF REVENUE IN.
IT DOES COST TAXPAYER DOLLARS.
BUT IT IS CRITICALLY IMPORTANT
TO THE ECONOMY AND THE
EMPLOYMENT LEVELS OF OUR CITY.
THREE YEARS AGO, UNDER THE
McGUINTY GOVERNMENT, THERE WAS
SERIOUS CONSIDERATION OF
PRIVATIZING ONTARIO NORTHLAND
AND THIS CAUSED A HUGE OUTCRY IN
OUR CITY.
FORTUNATELY THE WYNNE GOVERNMENT
CHANGED COURSE ON THAT AND IT
CONTINUES TO BE A CROWN
CORPORATION.
I THINK THE IDEA HERE, THE
PARADOX OF NORTHERN ONTARIO, IS
THAT WE WANT THE PROVINCE TO DO
MORE FOR US.
WE WANT BETTER PROGRAMS, MORE
JOBS, MORE MONEY COMING OUR WAY.
BUT ULTIMATELY WHAT WE WANT IS
TO DO IT ON OUR OWN.
WE WANT INDEPENDENCE.
WE WANT A SUSTAINABLE ECONOMY.
THAT'S THE CHALLENGE.
HOW DOES THAT HAPPEN?
SO AT ONCE WE WANT MORE
GOVERNMENT SUPPORT, AND ON THE
OTHER HAND WE WANT LESS.

The caption changes to "Producer: Mark Brosens, @MarkBrosens."

Steve says THAT IS A PARADOX
WHICH WE WILL CONTINUE TO
EXPLORE WITH YOU BOTH ONLINE
WITH YOUR ARTICLES AND WE THANK
YOU FOR COMING ON "THE AGENDA."
TONIGHT.
DAVID TABACHNICK FROM NIPISSING
UNIVERSITY.
ALWAYS GOOD TO TALK TO YOU,
DAVID.
THANKS SO MUCH.

David says THANK YOU, STEVE.

An animated slate reads "Ontario Hubs. Ontario Hubs are made possible by The Barry and Laurie Green Family Charitable Trust and Goldie Feldman."

Watch: Ontario Hubs: Northern Alienation