Ontario Votes 2014: Thunder Bay-Atikokan
Q1: How will you incorporate accessibility and the development of a working relationship and communication with First Nations as a part of your riding operations?
Mary Kozorys (NDP): It’s vitally important for the MPP to work closely with First Nations. I will regularly set up meetings with band councils. Chief and council can contact me – personally – any time, day or night. I will work alongside First Nations to make life more affordable and to work to create jobs.
Bill Mauro (Liberal): The First Nations residents, groups and organizations in Thunder Bay-Atikokan have diverse concerns. Maintaining an open and ongoing communication is essential. Whether it’s through e-mails, meetings, calls or events -- making sure that I’m accessible to First Nation residents has always been a priority for me. Then I’m able to bring their concerns forward and advocate on their behalf.
John Northey (Green): Communication is key - our candidate in Thunder Bay-Superior North is First Nations and my father is Métis so you can be sure I’d be communicating with all local Chiefs and other members of the communities regularly.
Harold Wilson (PC): In my economic and business development efforts, I have always worked to build strong communication lines with First Nations. This includes with NADF, NAN and individual communities, organizations and businesses. I was proud to be asked to speak at the NAN rally at Queen’s Park in 2010 against the Far North Act. I will build on this as your MPP.
Q2: What is your vision for your riding in terms of social and economic development? How will First Nations be partners in your vision?
Mary Kozorys (NDP): We need jobs now, and First Nations need to be a big part of the mix. This means that development of natural resources has to benefit First Nations. We also must recognize that First Nations populations are young, and so we need to ensure training opportunities for First Nation youth.
Bill Mauro (Liberal): The Thunder Bay region has incredible emerging economic opportunities. Our Liberal government has helped bring about a lot of those positive changes. There’s a lot more work to be done. The inclusion of First Nations as full partners is essential to the social and economic success of our region. We’ll only succeed by working together.
John Northey (Green): In all areas First Nations would be consulted, just as often as I would communicate with the Mayor of Thunder Bay or any other group. From the start, not as a ‘sorry I forgot you’ response.
Harold Wilson (PC): There is tremendous opportunity for building sustainable economic development. This must include ensuring we have the energy, transportation and communications infrastructure necessary to maximize the value of our resources for our region. Economic development means jobs, and with revenue sharing, helps in addressing the social development priorities of First Nations and Metis. Success comes through working together in effective partnerships.
Q3: As First Nations struggle with limited infrastructure investments from the federal government for essential community services, do you feel that the province has a role to play in advocacy on these issues?
Mary Kozorys (NDP): Honestly, Stephen Harper is not going to suddenly wake up one day and embrace the cause of Aboriginal rights and an agenda of social justice. So the province both needs to lobby hard on behalf of First Nations, but also to take action where Ottawa is abandoning its responsibilities. Things will absolutely change with an NDP government.
Bill Mauro (Liberal): The Ontario Liberal Party stands with all First Nations in their call for the federal government to act on their constitutional obligations. Premier Kathleen Wynne has raised the issue of the federal government’s failure to provide on-reserve students with equal funding -- and she’s shown a willingness to take on the federal government to protect the interests of Ontarians.
John Northey (Green): No question the province has a role. When any group in the province has issues with a different level of government the province should be advocating as well to protect the rights of that group and that most definitely includes First Nations.
Harold Wilson (PC): The Province’s first priority to First Nations, which it has not been fully engaged in, are those services that is responsible for. Partnerships must extend to the appropriate federal department or representative. I would be prepared to play a role as an effective advocate on issues that affect my constituents, which would include infrastructure.
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