Ontario it is said, is the one region of the country that dare not speak its name to the federal government. The symbolic cornerstone of the country and for so long the locus of wealth and population, Ontario has rarely if ever been credible as an aggrieved party in Confederation.
But things are different today. Ontario’s weakening manufacturing sector has dubiously dragged the province into “have not” status under equalization.
So Dwight Duncan is looking for allies. Ontario’s troubles should be on the agenda in Ottawa, he says. Yet he’s not finding help from the governing Conservatives with 51 Ontario MPs, or even the Liberals with 38 MPs, almost exclusively in the GTA.
No, Ontario’s Liberal finance minister credits only Jack Layton’s New Democrats for standing up for Ontario’s manufacturing sector:
"I see a federal Parliament that's ignoring Ontario. I see a federal Parliament that has not addressed the real scenario here in Ontario. I see a federal government that does not get the most important industry."
Praising federal NDP Leader Jack Layton for "having the guts to stand up and tell it like it is," Duncan added he expects more from Liberal and Tory MPs.
Even before the election, Layton has shown leadership on the manufacturing crisis. A New Democratic government would be taking action right now by investing in green technology and infrastructure and helping the transition of the auto sector. Yet the governing Conservatives and official opposition Liberals are invisible on this crisis in the estimation of the Ontario Liberal government.
It’s surely among the reasons the province rewarded Layton with the largest Ontario caucus in the party’s history.