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Rinaldi invited to tour Ontario's north

Ontario's Progressive Conservatives continued Tuesday to make hay of an alleged derogatory comment made by a Liberal member in the Legislature last week about Northern Ontario.

Tory Leader Patrick Brown and Northern Progressive Conservative MPPs Vic Fedeli and Ross Romano are now inviting Northumberland-Quinte West Liberal MPP Lou Rinaldi to "visit beautiful, opportunity-filled Northern Ontario."

"While I'm disappointed that MPP Rinaldi has neglected to apologize for his hurtful comments referring to Northern Ontario as 'No Man's Land,' it's time we turn this negative story into a positive," said Brown, during a conference call with Northern media and in a release issued shortly afterwards.

The Tory leader and the two Northern MPPs have all written letters to Premier Kathleen Wynne and Rinaldi suggesting they visit Northern Ontario and "see everything it has to offer."

"I suspect that after witnessing Northern hospitality firsthand, your views on the region will change for the better," said Brown.

During a speech by Parry Sound-Muskoka MPP Norm Miller on the North, Rinaldi, speaking off camera, is accused of heckling Miller by referring to the region as "no man's land."

The Progressive Conservatives, along with the Northern Ontario Party and other Northern leaders have called for an apology.

But Rinaldi has said his remark has been misconstrued and has refused to apologize, indicting the "no man's land" comment was not a slur about Ontario's North but about Fedeli getting way off topic. He has said the debate in the legislature was supposed to be about Bill 152, which includes the creation of two new ridings in Northern Ontario.

The Progressive Conservatives have suggested that Rinaldi comment confirms what the Liberal government thinks of the North.

"They took away our only passenger train, the North is hit harder with their skyrocketing hydro rates, 80% of our lumber mills shut down on their watch, we fell from the #1 mining jurisdiction to the 16th, and the Ring of Fire remains untouched for 10 years," said Fedeli on Tuesday as he demanded apology from the Liberal government.