Separatist Northern Ontario Party is officially registered
Leader of party started online petition earlier this year calling for a separated province
A separatist political party in the north is coming back to life with a new name and a new leader.
It's called the Northern Ontario Party, and its goal is to separate the north of the province from bigger cities down south like Toronto.
Its predecessor, the Northern Ontario Heritage Party, was formed in 1977 by Ed Diebel of North Bay. In its history, the party has never managed to secure any seats in the provincial legislature.
Earlier this year, Trevor Holliday created an online petition calling for a separated province.
After the petition attracted more than 4,300 supporters, he decided to go a step further and registered the Northern Ontario Party with Elections Ontario on July 28.
"Northern Ontario needs attention equally as southern Ontario for different aspects, different means. Why is it that we're not being heard?" he said.
"Toronto gets [more] transit. Yes, they have dense populations in certain areas, but transportation is more needed in the north for people who travel for health care. And, the health care isn't even local."
Holliday said his current goal is to have candidates elected in all 11 ridings in the north in the next provincial election.
Some of his party's platform includes having governance for northern Ontario, reducing the cost of living, improved transportation and restructuring government organizations to eliminate waste and repetitive spending.
'Steep hill to climb' for Northern Ontario party
Timmins - James Bay MPP Gilles Bisson says he understands the anger and frustration northerners have with the current provincial government.
However, he thinks it will be difficult for the Northern Ontario Party to get support. He also believes that Ontario should remain as one province.
"Running campaigns across northern Ontario, you've got to be pretty organized and you have to have the means to do that," he said.
"It's hard enough now within the structure that we have to have northern Ontario heard."
David Tabachnick, a political science professor at Nipissing University, echoed Bisson's statements.
"Their profile will be smaller in the province as a whole. So, the very same reason northern Ontario may not get the attention it deserves will also apply to the Northern Ontario Party," he said.
"There's a steep hill to climb for the Northern Ontario Party. Even getting nominees or candidates to run in these 11 ridings will be a challenge."
'Northern Ontarians want real people in office'
Holliday understands that it will take longer to achieve separation.
But he's confident that his party will win seats in the next provincial election.
"I'm confident about it. I believe that we have a really good chance," he said.
"Northern Ontarians want real people in office."