The mayor of the northwestern Ontario city of Kenora thinks it might be time for the community to say goodbye to Ontario and join up with Manitoba.
A grassroots movement to separate from Ontario has been underway in Kenora for years, but Mayor Dave Canfield says recent news that Abitibi Consolidated will close a mill in the community may be the last straw.
The pulp and paper company cited Ontario's high energy costs as one of its reasons for closing the mill. The closure means as many as 360 people will lose their jobs.
FROM JULY 29, 2005: Ontario to blame for forest industry problems, lobby says
Canfield told CBC News the mill might have stayed open if Kenora were a part of Manitoba.
"Obviously if we were part of Manitoba, this wouldn't be happening, because the energy costs are less than half for this industry and a lot of other things are different," he said.
Canfield said people in Kenora are growing increasingly frustrated with the feeling of alienation from the politicians in Toronto. He points out Kenora is 1,800 kilometres away from Toronto, but only 200 kilometres away from Winnipeg, the capital of Manitoba.
"We would sooner be part of Ontario, work with the government, work co-operatively and be treated equally. Unfortunately, that just is not happening," he said.
"We're having a hard time being heard, and I think the frustration is starting to show with a lot of the people in our community – and not only our community, but other communities in northwest Ontario."
Canfield said a petition has been started to gauge community support for separation.
Although he notes city council doesn't officially support the movement, Canfield said it is becoming harder to ignore.