THUNDER BAY — The provincial Liberals' crushing defeat at the hands of the Progressive Conservative party has cost the Thunder Bay area its prominent place in the corridors of power at Queen's Park.
Prior to the election, both city ridings were represented by cabinet ministers, giving the area access and influence that few population centres of similar size could claim.
Thursday's election left Bill Mauro without his seat, and Michael Gravelle a member of a party that had lost official status in the legislature.
Coun. Rebecca Johnson says "There's no question that when you don't have a cabinet minister in your riding, it's a negative to a degree, and going from two to having none, it's definitely going to have an impact."
Johnson told Tbnewswatch "you don't have the intimate details of what's going on in government when you're not in cabinet. When you have a member in cabinet, they help develop the policy for the province, and can provide the influence from northwestern Ontario. That is gone, and that is unfortunate."
Coun. Iain Angus said losing the cabinet posts means "direct connections will be a lot more difficult." He said that's "a concern," but added that area municipal representatives have developed good connections with members of the Doug Ford government such as Vic Fedeli and others.
"We've got those relationships, and we will work hard to make sure that we connect with them, and find ways in which we can work together. The City of Thunder Bay is politically neutral. We will work with whoever is the government," Angus added.
Both Angus and Johnson said they hope newly-elected Kenora-Rainy River PC member Greg Rickford will be able to advocate for all of northwestern Ontario within the provincial government.
Shuniah mayor Wendy Landry, president of the Northwestern Ontario Municipal Association, said NOMA has fostered an "excellent" working relationship with all three major political parties, "with the PC party specifically as well."
While conceding that losing two cabinet positions "is definitely a loss for the region," Landry said she's confident NOMA can forge strong government-to-government relationships with the PCs to promote the mining sector, forest industry, and the need for funding for "the critical infrastructure that's hurting right now."