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Tickets hard to come by for Northern Ontario election debate

Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath gets behind the wheel of a tractor during a campaign stop at the International Plowing Match in Chute-a-Blondeau on Sept. 20, 2011.

Adrian Wyld/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Anyone who wants to watch Tim Hudak and Andrea Horwath clash in Thunder Bay in Friday's so-called Northern Debate may need to get their tickets through a scalper.

Seats are limited at the debate, which Liberal Leader Dalton McGuinty will not attend due to scheduling issues. Tickets are aren't cheap – one needs a buy a day pass to the Northwestern Ontario Regional Conference, an annual event put on by the Northwestern Ontario Municipal Association at the Valhalla Inn.

A one-day pass to the conference, which ends Friday, is $95 for non-members. The ticket includes breakfast and lunch, as well as a seat in the audience as the leaders clash over how best to develop the North's vast resources, provide health care to remote communities and deal with social issues unique to the region.

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"I'm taking my husband and a friend so I'll well into the hundreds," said Lakehead University political science Prof. Laura Paquette. "But, at least there will be some chicken."

Anyone who buys a day pass could also attend the day's other events – including a session on "the strategic plan for Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre" and a regional tourism update from Thunder Bay's tourism manager.

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