In a few days, communities across the North and around the province will wake up with new municipal councils and mayors directing traffic in their communities. In some markets it's been a bruising battle and in others a little more genteel. A quick visit around Northern Ontario's news websites reveals some of the skirmishing.
In Timmins, there are two big topics. One is the expense of an eight-day music festival called Stars and Thunder championed by incumbent Mayor Steve Black, which has lost $2.2 million in the last couple of years but also brought 25,000 visitors into the city. His chief opponent, George Pirie, is unimpressed. The other big debate is about a $48-million multi-use recreational facility. More than 200 people came out to the first big debate. This is a long way from the historic hegemony of Leo Del Villano and Vic Power, who shared running Timmins off and on for 50 years.
In North Bay, it's gotten personal between incumbent Mayor Al McDonald, who is running on his record, and Gary Gardiner, who is happy to criticize it. They are accusing one another of various nefarious intentions and going at it pretty good. The underlying issue, as it is in most parts of Northern Ontario, is taxes and economic stagnation.
In the Sault, there are only four candidates for mayor and two fighting it out seriously: that's incumbent Christian Provenzano and challenger Rory Ring. There seems to be modest disagreement between them on the issues but plenty of tension to spice up the discussion. The real story is who wants to be in charge in the Sault, which has more to do with who is supporting these candidates than the candidates themselves. Sault Ste. Marie has suffered a great deal with the insolvency of Essar Steel and its impact on local suppliers over recent years. Things may be on the upswing there if they can survive steel tariffs.
In Thunder Bay, there are 11 candidates for mayor and a number with substantial political experience, including Bill Mauro, a previous provincial cabinet minister, and Frank Pullia and Iain Angus, long-time councillors. Sadly, the biggest issues appear to be concerns for personal safety (gangs and guns) and perennial tensions between Indigenous and...