MANTARIO OR MINNTARIO

THE CONTRARIAN

WILLY BRANT’S DIARY — Joe and I were sitting in the kitchen having a beer after spending the afternoon straightening and propping up my old hay barn, more of a shed really, made of poles set in the ground and covered in sheet metal salvaged from an old warehouse.

“I was noodling around on Google”, says Joe, “and I ran across this website about a Northern Ontario Secession Movement. Neat stuff, didn’t know all that was going on”.

“Like what”, I prompt. He goes on “Well, it seems enough northerners are ticked off at the province that there are some movements afoot to separate northern Ontario from the big smoke”. He took a pull on his bottle (I always buy bottles, beer tastes better, and anyway they say none of us men are really ever weaned). “Seems there was a movement about 40 years ago called the Northern Ontario Heritage Party, led by a guy named Ed Deibel. Got up to 25 000 members, which made it bigger than the regular political parties, big embarrassment to the province, they had to pay attention. That’s when the province set up the Ministry of Northern Affairs, with an office with power to actually do stuff in each northern town. That kind of took the steam out of the movement, but now, with Ontario shutting down our northern industries, good old Ed is resurrecting the party”.

“Well, well”, says I, “believe it or not I was a member of that separation party. That was about the same time as the ‘Dam the Dams’ movement, I supported that too. Old Ed must be about 90 years old now. Good for him”.

“Yeah”, says Joe, “But things are different now. We really do not have much in common with northeastern Ontario any more; in fact we are a lot more like Minnesotans or Manitobans or Saskatchewanians, or even Texans, than we are like northeastern Ontario people. We need to look at something different, go west, or strike out on our own”.

“Well, maybe”, says I. “We might be culturally different from the Northeastern folks, but we still have a lot in common, namely, being a poor cousin to the big city, which gets rich on our resources. We have a common need to get that big city off our back.”

“I don’t Know”, says Joe, “there seems to be both kinds of separation being talked about. The mayors of Kenora and Fort Frances have both supported the idea of joining the west, I even found a headline reading ‘Kenora, Manitoba’. Funny we haven’t heard anything from Dryden about it, but I guess Dryden has its own way of irritating the province, talking about toll gates on the highway”.

“Can you believe it”, says I, “Our new premier actually endorsed the idea of tollgates. Guess she doesn’t know that 75% of cross-Canada traffic goes through the US to avoid our pitiful northern Ontario highways, a toll gate would chase away the rest. At least we wouldn’t have any traffic problems”

I thought about it for a minute, until a horrible thought hit me. “Hold it now”, says I, “if we join Manitoba our agricultural community would get the kind of technical support they need, farming would flourish, land prices would go way up, and you and I couldn’t afford our places. I guess I won’t be supporting that idea”

“You might be right”, says Joe, getting up to go home, “but I don’t hear anybody asking for our support just yet”.

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