Ontario MPP Gilles Bisson first to throw hat in ring for revamped northern ridings
NDP MPP Gilles Bisson announced Thursday that he will seek re-election this June in the newly created riding of Timmins.
The current riding of Timmins-James Bay will be divided into Timmins and a new large riding of Mushkegowuk-James Bay. That riding would include all communities north of Timmins, including Hearst and Kapuskasing.
The latter will only have 30,000 voters, five times less than some Toronto ridings.
Around sixty per cent of Mushkegowuk-James Bay's electorate also identifies as Francophone.
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"This was a very difficult decision for me. I have served the people of Highway 11 and the James Bay coast for nearly 20 years so having the riding split up is like losing a part of the family," Bisson said.
In a press release, Bisson said that one of the main factors affecting his decision was that he lives in Timmins.
"I was born and raised in Timmins. My wife and I raised our daughters in Timmins, so Timmins is our home."
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In the spring, the Ontario Liberals announced they were doubling the ridings in Ontario's north, in an attempt at achieving better representation for the sprawling, but sparsely populated area.
The north will be represented by four ridings in the upcoming provincial elections: Kiiwetinoong, Mushkegowuk-James Bay, Timmins and Kenora-Rainy River.
At the time the province made its recommendations on the split, Bisson said he wasn't happy with the proposed changes because they doesn't allow for Indigenous constituents to be fully represented at Queen's Park.
"The idea here was, and this is why everybody was pretty excited about this in the First Nation communities, was to create ridings where they would be in a majority and unfortunately that has not happened," Bisson said.
He added that Mushkegowuk would only be made up of 15 per cent of those constituents who identify as Indigenous.
The Ontario New Democratic Party also announced today that Guy Bourgouin, President of the United Steelworkers Local 1-2010, will be seeking the party's nomination as candidate for the Mushkegowuk-James Bay riding.