Lambton County’s new man at Queen’s Park is optimistic there are things he can do to improve this area’s economy and relationship with the government.
David McNaughton of Strategy Corp was recently hired by Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership with the blessing of Lambton County council to be a lobbyist for the county at Queen’s Park at a cost of $70,000. Politicians are concerned Sarnia-Lambton’s needs are being ignored in favour of the concerns of Toronto – which voted for the Liberal government in the last provincial election.
“Generally speaking, most of southwestern Ontario has felt a bit left out and the results showed in the last election,” says McNaughton. “Sarnia-Lambton has felt left out for quite a while; but they’re not alone.”
George Mallay, SLEPs general manager, says having a few delegations going to Toronto every year is not going to be enough to spur government into action.
“We need representatives to reach the right people within government,” says Mallay. “We’re a small municipality …in a big pond – it is about getting the attention.”
And Mallay says McNaughton can help Sarnia-Lambton understand where the government is coming from as well. “How do we help the government; the government has a vision for the province and how do we fit in.”
Warwick Mayor Todd Case agrees. “We need to start relationship building with this government whether we like it or not,” says Case. “This is our opportunity.”
SLEP directors and municipal and government leaders sat down with McNaughton and his staff Monday to talk about the region’s priorities. Brooke-Alvinston’s mayor was among the leaders. Don McGugan wants to see the provincial strategy focused on the needs of the research park, the industrial sectors’ plan for a heavy haul route and the rural municipalities concerns about continued provincial funding cuts among other things.
McNaughton was pleased with the meetings adding he was a bit surprised by what he heard.
“There are really exciting things going on in this community,” McNaughton says. “I’m optimist there are things we can do that will make a difference.”