Northern Ontario Party
|Active provincial party|
|Founded||1977, and again in 2010|
|Headquarters||76 Oswald Street,
Thunder Bay, Ontario
|Ideology||Increased powers for Northern Ontario|
|Colours||Cardinal & Gold|
The Northern Ontario Party (NOP), called the Northern Ontario Heritage Party (NOHP) until 2016, is a provincial political party in Ontario, Canada. It was formed in 1977 to campaign for provincial status for Northern Ontario. No member was ever elected to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. The party disbanded in 1985, and remained inactive until being revived and re-registered by Elections Ontario in 2010.
The party's founder, Ed Deibel of North Bay, travelled Northern Ontario in the late 1960s and early 1970s to promote the idea of creating a separate province, and to sign up supporters for the party.
The party later dropped the idea of a separate province from its platform, and continued to promote Northern Ontario's interests within Ontario. However, the idea of a separate province was restored to the party's platform in 2016.
Origins of the party
The NOHP had its roots in the April 1973 provincial budget, in which the Government of Ontario proposed to extend the seven per cent provincial sales tax to heating and electricity. Deibel notified the local media that he would go to jail before paying the tax. This led to a meeting of about 500 people, and the formation of a tax repeal committee chaired by Deibel. The committee collected 24,000 signatures from all over Northern Ontario on a petition, and the government ultimately withdrew the proposal.
On May 16, 1973, Deibel formed a committee to discuss this idea, and began research about Northern Ontario’s problems. Deibel travelled Northern Ontario recruiting 600 members for the new province committee, and obtaining 6,000 signatures on a petition requesting that a vote be given to Northern Ontario on the question of forming a new province.
In October 1974, Deibel pitched a tent at Queen's Park, site of Ontario’s legislative assembly, for three days, and gave interviews to the media. This led to a half-hour private meeting with Premier William Davis, who refused to allow a plebiscite.
In the spring of 1975, Deibel wrote to Premier Davis, offering to abandon the new province committee if the government met seven demands:
- Establish a Northern Ontario Development Commission with citizens from Northern Ontario.
- A program paid for by the province to eliminate municipal taxes for ten years for all new manufacturing plants that complete at least 80 per cent of finished form.
- Non-renewable resources to have a depletion tax deposited in a trust fund designed for that area when the project in finished.
- At least 50 per cent of all natural resources to be processed and manufactured in Northern Ontario.
- A billion-dollar catch-up program to provide serviced land for housing industrial parks and social needs.
- Appointment of a provincial cabinet minister with full responsibility for mining.
- Lakehead University and Laurentian University would receive funding for a continuing program of research and development that assures a better quality of life in Northern Ontario.
The Ontario government responded to the offer, noting that "Northern Ontario... is strengthened by being an integral part of a very broadly based provincial economy." The government’s response addressed each of the demands, but accepted none of them.
Deibel replied with a demand for the Premier’s resignation, and on September 17, 1976, began to collect the 10,000 signatures necessary to register a new political party. The Northern Ontario Heritage Party was given official certification in October 1977, with 10,600 signatures. The provincial government subsequently created the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines in 1977.
In 1979, Deibel created some controversy when he claimed that Ontario Progressive Conservative Party cabinet minister Alan Pope had pledged to cross the floor and join the party as its first MPP. Pope denied the claim and never crossed; according to Pope, while he lauded the party's goal of improving Northern Ontario's economic standing, he felt that he could accomplish more by working within the government than by sitting with a minor party.
Soon afterward, Deibel attempted to run for a nomination as a Progressive Conservative Party of Canada candidate in the 1980 federal election. Perceived as having damaged his and the party's credibility, he was forced to resign his position and was succeeded as leader by Garry Lewis, a businessman from Callander who dropped separation from the party's agenda and instead campaigned for economic development of the region within the province.
Despite the more than 10,000 people who had signed the party's original certification documents, however, the party had no more than 200 paying members at its peak.
In early 1983, the party membership ousted Lewis and its executive. The party's new leader, Ronald Gilson, promptly reinstated separation from Ontario as the party's primary goal. By 1985, however, the party was deregistered after failing to file its annual contributions and expenses return for 1984; Don Joynt, the executive director of the provincial Commission on Election Contributions and Expenses, revealed that in its year-end return for 1983, the party had listed just ninety cents in assets and only four card-carrying members.
The NOHP’s dream for Northern Ontario was to build a totally integrated industrial complex, i.e., Northern Ontario would produce manufactured products from its natural resources, instead of just exporting raw materials. This would create prosperity for the region, and jobs to enable young people to stay in Northern Ontario. (Many young people leave the region to look for work in southern Ontario and other areas.)
The party aimed to expand the existing complex basis (i.e., mining, milling, smelting and refining, processing activities) to first level manufacturing processing industries and second level manufacturing industries, e.g., stainless steel work, nickel plating, zinc galvanizing, wire and cable works, copper and brass mills, secondary smelting, die casting, sand casting, foundries, iron and steel work, brasses, bronzes alloys, nickel alloys, alloys steels.
Northern Ontario has significant metallic mineral resources: the region produces nearly half of the world’s nickel, and a substantial portion of the Canada’s gold, silver, copper, zinc, uranium, cobalt and platinum metals.
But according to NOHP founder Ed Deibel, 100% of Northern Ontario’s raw resources are exported out of the region, and 80% are exported to other parts of the world. Only 20% are turned into made-in-Canada manufactured produces for exports and our domestic markets.
Consequently, Northern Ontario’s economy is concentrated on the extraction and semi-processing (e.g., smelting) of raw materials, which are high-pollution industries.
The NOHP believed that a provincial government could reverse a hundred years of mismanagement by the federal and provincial government of these mineral resources.
The NOHP would have implemented policies requiring that Northern Ontario’s natural resources be manufactured into made-in-Canada manufactured products, with the aim of diverting 50% of its raw materials to manufacturing in Canada.
The NOHP believed that Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway system would provide cheap transportation for shipping access manufactured goods to the world markets, and that railways, highways and air transportation could be improved to get manufactured products to world markets.
Furthermore, the region’s highly educated labour force, access to energy, and non-renewable natural and renewable raw resources would be an excellent basis for a strong manufacturing sector.
The NOHP would focus on state of the art technology to minimize pollution and pursue sustainable development.
Strategies for achieving these goals would include:
- Designating Northern Ontario as a manufacturing centre;
- Finding new and innovative ways to turn raw resources into manufactured products for export and for domestic markets;
- Building a culture of innovation and research by encouraging research and development in Northern Ontario universities, and the transfer of new technologies and products to the new manufacturing culture of Northern Ontario;
- Implementing tax incentives for news job created in the manufacturing sector in Northern Ontario; and
- Enforcing the Ontario Mining Act (section 91) condition that patent ores to be treated in Canada.
Article prepared with the kind assistance of Mr. Ed Deibel.
In its initial platform, the revived Northern Ontario Heritage Party called for a number of measures to increase the region's power over its own affairs within the province, including increasing the number of Northern Ontario electoral districts in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario and the creation of a special district for the region's First Nations voters. In its current platform, however, the Northern Ontario Party has returned to advocating for full separation of the region from the province.
The party ran three candidates in the 2011 provincial election, garnering 683 votes. However, one of its candidates ran in the downtown Toronto riding of St. Paul's rather than in a Northern Ontario riding.
In 2016, the party was reincorporated as the Northern Ontario Party, under the leadership of Trevor Holliday. Holliday, previously a bus driver for Ontario Northland, was converted to Northern Ontario separation when the government of Dalton McGuinty announced plans in 2012 to shut down the service, and attracted media attention early in 2016 when he created an online petition on change.org which eventually attracted over 4,000 signatories. Deibel remains involved in the party executive.
- "Frozen Out in Northern Ontari-ari-ario". Financial Post, April 1, 1995.
- "Heritage Party wants better deal for North; officially recognized". The Globe and Mail, October 20, 1977.
- Northern Ontario Party - Platform
- "The eleventh province?". The Globe and Mail, January 29, 1977.
- "Northern heritage party tries to forget past". The Globe and Mail, February 5, 1981.
- "Is it back to the future with Heritage II?". Northern Life, May 12, 2010.
- "Ontario minister denies report he's considering crossing floor". The Globe and Mail, October 6, 1979.
- "Separatists in Northern Ontario revive goal of an 11th province". The Globe and Mail, May 5, 1983.
- "Northern Ontario separatists lose party". The Globe and Mail, August 20, 1985.
- "N. Ontario heritage party gets new life". National Post, August 14, 2010.
- "Separatist Northern Ontario Party is officially registered". CBC News, August 5, 2016.
- "Northern Ontario Heritage Party contends with separatist petition". TBNewsWatch, February 6, 2016.
- "Northern Ontario Party is born". Sudbury Star, August 4, 2016.
- "Northern Ontario Party wants separation from the south". Bay Today, August 5, 2016.