Andy Wolff sees the Northern Ontario Party as having the potential to act as a watchdog to hold whichever party forms the next government accountable to the region.
Wolff, the party’s candidate in Thunder Bay-Superior North, says they believe in doing the right thing and are not bound by partisan lines.
“There are many things we do agree with when the parties make their promises for the development of the north,” Wolff said. “Well, we would be the ones to hold them accountable on that. To have somebody to be voted in on that promise and then break that promise, they won’t go against their party. They would rather side with the party than their constituents. We’re not bound by that because we are there to serve our constituents.”
Having representation at Queen’s Park would be a first for the party, which traces its roots back to a separatist movement in the 1970s. After being disbanded in 1985, the party was revived in 2010.
Wolff readily admits party will not be in power after the June 7 election but he insists they could be a kingmaker if one or two of their candidates can manage to get elected and none of the other parties is in a majority position.
“We know we’re not going to be running the government,” Wolff said.
“However, if it was a minority government we could hold the balance of power because we don’t lean left or right. We’re pretty much straight down the middle. Whether it was a (Progressive) Conservative government or a Liberal or NDP, we could support that government if they have good legislation.”
Four years ago the party finished last in the six-person race in Thunder Bay, receiving just 136 votes, leaving likely slim to none odds of prevailing over long-time incumbent Liberal Michael Gravelle, or PC challenger Derek Parks or the NDP’s Lise Vaugeois, this time around.
Wolff, who is running provincially for the first time, has also put his name forward municipally in the Current River ward where he finished as the runner-up in 2014.
Electricity prices are a main issue for people in the riding, Wolff said.
“Why are we paying so much? We have the hydro here, we have the resources. Our hydro should be cheaper here in Northern Ontario than it is in Southern Ontario. They’re taking our resources,” Wolff said. “That affects business, economic development as well as people.”
Wolff said he would also be pushing for manufacturing policies that ensure resources are processed in the region, full financial disclosure of casino revenue and safety improvements to interchanges along the Thunder Bay Expressway.