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Toronto - Ontario - Canada
Back from Timmins
12/01/2004

Some of you may have thought it was cold in Southern Ontario this weekend. You should have been with me in Timmins. -43.9C, coldest place outside of Nunavut. A wind chill of I-don't-know-what. But it was fun.

I'm always happy when I am travelling to a new place in Canada. I remember going to Calgary for the first time, looking down from the plane and realizing that -- unlike a lot of my past travel -- I was going to a Canadian city. I wouldn't have to go through customs. In fact, if I decided to never leave, there'd be no immigration service hunting me down, because I'm still at home.

This trip to Timmins -- for a winter wedding -- was my first trip to anywhere in Ontario north of Parry Sound, and I was excited to go.

Not knowing what the roads would be like, we planned on taking two days to get to Timmins. I'm glad we did, since there were problems on the way up. My glasses fell into two pieces, irrepairably, just before we left. Then the rental's wipers weren't working and we had to stop in Barrie and get them replaced. After that, though, things were smooth.

We didn't do much in Sudbury, but we did make a quick visit to The Big Nickel. In Timmins, we didn't do any sight-seeing at all -- not even the Shania Twain Centre! But we did have a good time visiting with my wife's friends and attending her friend's wedding and reception.

Anyway, driving the 700 km to Timmins helped me get a better feeling for how big Ontario really is. It's pretty big.

The trip also made me think about how people living in very different circumstances would have very different priorities about what they want from their government. Timmins is a small town, with a declining population, making money off natural resources. Toronto is a large multicultural city with a modern economy, with all that the issues and complications that this implies. These communities faces quite different sets of problems, and should therefore have quite different agendas at Queen's Park and in Ottawa.

If I lived in Timmins, I probably wouldn't care at all about gridlock and public transportation, and I might even be worrying about my community taking a real cost-competitiveness hit if Kyoto were implemented in Canada. I also don't think I'd be so concerned about guns, or any of the other issues of importance to me here in Toronto. I don't say this to critique the people of Timmins at all. On the contrary, I just think there are probably other issues that are far more pressing in their lives.

It must be a complicated thing to try to balance all the different needs and interests in a large government like the Province of Ontario.


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