Harold Wilson says the last time he ran for provincial office, the issues were almost exactly the same.
“That’s just sad,” the 52-year-old Wilson, running for the Conservatives in Thunder Bay-Atikokan, said, pointing to an over-abundance of government red tape and a bureaucracy that presents too many hurdles for businesses to succeed, especially in Ontario’s north.
That was in 1990, when Wilson jumped into the fray in the former Fort William riding, finishing third behind then Liberal leader Lynn McLeod and the NDP’s Don Hutsul.
Wilson, who spent time at the head of the Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce, said his decision was made to re-enter the political arena when the Liberal government decided not to continue its plan to convert the Thunder Bay Generating Station to natural gas.
Not getting the answers he wanted from incumbent Bill Mauro, seeing a lack of interest on the part of the government to bring all the parties to the same table, he decided then and there to step into the fray again.
“It was at that time that I said maybe this is something I could do,” he said.
Wilson believes Northern Ontario stands a lot to gain under a Conservative government, adding it’s not out of the realm of possibility to expect up to 20,000 of leader Tim Hudak’s promised million jobs to find their way into the region.
It starts with the Ring of Fire, a file Wilson believes the Liberals have bungled. Consultation with First Nations is a must.
“I understand not just the economic development opportunities that are there, but also some of the government issues that keep it from happening,” he said. “We need to get on track with this to make it happen.”
Wilson is also a backer of a proposed Thunder Bay event centre, and says he’ll fight for funding at Queen’s Park, if certain conditions are met.
“It has to maximize its value. You have make sure there are enough economic activities to make it worthwhile. It cannot be losing money,” he said.
Wilson is married. He and his wife Lena have three daughters.