TORONTO, Oct. 22, 2013 /CNW/ - A petition campaign to bring back the Ontario Rangers Program has attracted more than 6,000 signatures, a Queen's Park news conference was told today.
"I believe that the loss of the Ontario Ranger Program was a mistake - but to err is human. I believe it is in the best interest of the province of Ontario to restore it," said Jack Ballinger, a Durham Region councillor and key supporter of restoring the program.
The petition campaign was organized by the grassroots group Friends of the Ontario Rangers Program (FORP) which launched their efforts one year ago after the former McGuinty government abruptly cancelled the 68-year program which promoted environmental stewardship, maintenance of provincial parks, life skills and team-building. More than 70,000 teenaged Ontarians participated in the program over seven decades.
The group intends to have the petition results presented to Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and Minister of Natural Resources David Orazietti. The FORP have lobbied MPPs for several months with the goal of restoring the former $1.6 million program for the summer of 2014.
Although Ballinger himself was never a ranger, his daughter Lisa Streets was a participant and went on to work for two additional seasons at parks in northern Ontario. Through her, he said, he witnessed first-hand the positive impact it left on her.
"Lisa left home as a shy, somewhat awkward teenager and returned home from the Ontario Ranger Program as a confident, young lady," he added.
Lending their support to the FORP campaign at the press conference were two NDP MPPs, John Vanthof (Timiskaming-Cochrane) and Michael Mantha (Algoma-Manitoulin) who called on the Wynne government to restore the program in its original form by 2014.
SOURCE: Friends of the Ontario Rangers Program (FORP)
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