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The Northern Ontario Heritage Party was a provincial political party in Ontario, Canada that was formed in 1977 to campaign for provincial status for Northern Ontario. No member was ever elected to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

The party's founder, Ed Deibel of North Bay, travelled Northern Ontario in the late 1960s and early 1970s to promote the idea of creating a separate province, and to sign up supporters for the party.

The party later dropped the idea of a separate province from its platform, and continued to promote Northern Ontario's interests within Ontario. The party disbanded in the 1980s.

Origins of the Party

The NOHP had its roots in the April 1973 provincial budget in which the Government of Ontario proposed to extend the 7% provincial sales tax to heating and electricity. Ed Deibel notified the local media that he would go to jail before paying the tax. This led to a meeting of about 500 people, and the formation of a tax repeal committee chaired by Deibel. The committee collected 24,000 signatures from all over Northern Ontario on a petition. The government withdrew the proposal. Out of this committee came discussion about establishing a new province.

On May 16, 1973, Deibel formed a committee to discuss this idea, and began research about Northern Ontario’s problems. Deibel travelled Northern Ontario recruiting 600 members for the new province committee, and obtaining 6,000 signatures on a petition requesting that a vote be given to Northern Ontario on the question of forming a new province.

In October 1974, Deibel pitched a tent at Queen's Park, site of Ontario’s legislative assembly, for three days, and gave interviews to the media. This led to a half-hour private meeting with Premier William Davis, who refused to allow a plebiscite.

In the spring of 1975, Deibel wrote to Premier Davis, offering to abandon the new province committee if the government met seven demands:

  1. Establish a Northern Ontario Development Commission with citizens from Northern Ontario.
  2. A program paid for by the province to eliminate municipal taxes for ten years for all new manufacturing plants that complete at least 80 per cent of finished form.
  3. Non-renewable resources to have a depletion tax deposited in a trust fund designed for that area when the project in finished.
  4. At least 50 per cent of all natural resources to be processed and manufactured in Northern Ontario.
  5. A billion-dollar catch-up program to provide serviced land for housing industrial parks and social needs.
  6. Appointment of a provincial cabinet minister with full responsibility for mining.
  7. Lakehead University and Laurentian University would receive funding for a continuing program of research and development that assures a better quality of life in Northern Ontario.

The Ontario government responded to the offer, noting that "Northern Ontario... is strengthened by being an integral part of a very broadly based provincial economy." The government’s response addressed each of the demands, but accepted none of them.

Deibel replied with a demand for the Premier’s resignation, and on September 17, 1976, began to collect the 10,000 signatures necessary to register a new political party. The Northern Ontario Heritage Party was given official certification in October 1977, with 10,600 signatures.

The provincial government subsequently created the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines in 1977.

Party program

The NOHP’s dream for Northern Ontario was to build a totally integrated industrial complex, i.e., Northern Ontario would produce manufactured products from its natural resources, instead of just exporting raw materials. This would create prosperity for the region, and jobs to enable young people to stay in Northern Ontario. (Many young people leave the region to look for work in southern Ontario and other areas.)

The party aimed to expand the existing complex basis (i.e., mining, milling, smelting and refining, processing activities) to first level manufacturing processing industries and second level manufacturing industries, e.g., stainless steel work, nickel plating, zinc galvanizing, wire and cable works, copper and brass mills, secondary smelting, die casting, sand casting, foundries, iron and steel work, brasses, bronzes alloys, nickel alloys, alloys steels.

Northern Ontario is has significant metallic mineral resources: the region produces nearly half of the world’s nickel, and a substantial portion of the Canada’s gold, silver, copper, zinc, uranium, cobalt and platinum metals.

But according NOHP founder Ed Deibel, 100% of Northern Ontario’s raw resources are exported out of the region, and 80% are exported to other parts of the world. Only 20% are turned into made-in-Canada manufactured produces for exports and our domestic markets.

Consequently, Northern Ontario’s economy is concentrated on the extraction and semi-processing (e.g., smelting) of raw materials, which are high-pollution industries.

The NOHP believed that a provincial government could reverse a hundred years of mismanagement by the federal and provincial government of these mineral resources.

The NOHP would have implemented policies requiring that Northern Ontario’s natural resources be manufactured into made-in-Canada manufactured products, with the aim of diverting 50% of its raw materials to manufacturing in Canada.

The NOHP believed that Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway system would provide cheap transportation for shipping access manufactured goods to the world markets, and that railways, highways and air transportation could be improved to get manufactured products to world markets.

Furthermore, the region’s highly educated labour force, access to energy, and non-renewable natural and renewable raw resources would be an excellent basis for a strong manufacturing sector.

The NOHP would focus on state of the art technology to minimize pollution and pursue sustainable development.

Strategies for achieving these goals would include:

  • Designating Northern Ontario as a manufacturing centre;
  • Finding new and innovative ways to turn raw resources into manufactured products for export and for domestic markets;
  • Building a culture of innovation and research by encouraging research and development in Northern Ontario universities, and the transfer of new technologies and products to the new manufacturing culture of Northern Ontario;
  • Implementing tax incentives for news job created in the manufacturing sector in Northern Ontario; and
  • Enforcing the Ontario Mining Act (section 91) condition that patent ores to be treated in Canada.

Article prepared with the kind assistance of Mr. Ed Deibel.

See also

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