Thunder Bay, officially known now as "Northern Ontario," formerly known as the Social Republic of Thunder Bay, was a breakaway survivor nation from the nation of Canada, having been established during a period in which communications were too unreliable and weak. Calls for Thunder Bay to rejoin with Canada were rejected by its former leader, the late Colonel Giraud Leppe, but as of late talks opened on whether to join Canada, Superior, or remain on its own. The result of this was a two-stage referendum on the three options or becoming a Canadian protectorate: in the end it came down to independence or rejoining Canada, with a slim majority in favor of Canada.
Thunder Bay is located in the northwestern portion of the pre-Doomsday Canadian province of Ontario.
Thunder Bay did not suffer the same way the rest of Canada did. The closest nuclear detonations to the city were in Winnipeg, Manitoba and K.I. Sawyer Air base on the Upper Peninsula of the former U.S. state of Michigan. As a result, Thunder Bay was largely stable in its first couple years. Mayor Walter Assef largely succeeded in managing the affairs of the city in its first year, and continuously waited for the phone upon his desk to ring, and begin talks that would result in the reconstitution of Canada. That phone would remain quiet until long after he was thrown out of office.
Colonel Giraud Leppe
By the end of 1984, food shortages began to arise, along with a growing refugee problem. Many towns and farms that existed north and west of the city were either severely affected by fallout from the nuclear destruction of Winnipeg, or the increasing number of raiders who were crossing the border from the former U.S. state of Minnesota. Though not much could be done for the fallout, which had blanketed the northern part of the former district, former Canadian military units were available for deployment by Assef. Reorganized as the TBDF (Thunder Bay Defense Force), under the command of Colonel Giraud Leppe, the force of 800 men was deployed to set up an outpost in the now abandoned town of Neebing. On June 14, the Battle of Neebing occurred, in which the TBDF was forced to defend itself against an innumerable amount of raiders (estimates vary, with some saying that there were really only 1,500), who had been heading to Thunder Bay itself. Despite taking 267 casualties, Giraud was considered a hero, and quickly found himself as a household name within the city. Following the battle, Neebing was transformed into Fort Haverhill, meant to act as a buffer against any further intrusions into the territory by bandits or nomadic refugees.
Problems for the Republic only got worse when 1984 ended. The farmland in the west had been secured, which allowed for the return of former residents without further attacks. However, it was too late in the season to plant anything, as fall was already upon them. Desperate attempts to grow even meager supplies were for naught, as the first snow in October of that year quickly killed any crop that had managed to begin sprouting from their seeds. Only the fishing industry kept the Republic from starving throughout that winter.
Giraud Leppe had grown tired of the inefficiencies of the democratic government, and so had many of its citizens. A call for emergency powers to be given to the mayor, in order to enact solutions without the authorization of the city council, was against Walter Assef’s principles. He feared the rise of a dictatorship from within his office, and maintained that he was only trying to keep what was left of Democracy in the remnants of their nation. To many, however, who with their children continued to starve into the winter, this was not good enough a reason.
Leppe, along with the officers of the TBDF, agreed that if the government were to survive, radical changes and policies would have to be enacted. As such, what became known as the December Revolution occurred on 12 December 1985. The Thunder Bay Defense Force stationed in the city itself, lead by Captain Giraud Leppe, marched upon city hall, and demanded the resignation of Walter Assef, and his entire government. No one knows what exactly was said in that meeting, as the entire cabinet, including Assef, disappeared that day. The next day, upon the city square, Giraud Leppe declared the formation of the Social Republic of Thunder Bay:
“Walter Assef has failed to ensure the survival of our nation……in order to keep alive a system…….that was going to lead to our destruction! Me……and other public leaders……………have realized that………drastic measures will have to be taken………in order to make sure that as many of us…….survive these terrible years. I do not promise an immediate recovery…….nor a miraculous return to the days before the twenty sixth of September….two years ago. We may never live to see that day. But…..as your new leader……..I promise to end the misery that plagues our people………..and make a nation……that will ensure future generations……..comfort and prosperity.”
Giraud Leppe had been made the provisional President due to his popularity among the citizens of the city, while any other would almost certainly give the impression that the military took power purely for its benefit, rather than the people’s. At the same time, it was assumed that Giraud would be easy to control and manipulate, leaving to true power in the hands of the military and its generals. They would not realize how wrong they truly were.
The February Purge
The winter of 1985 would be the hardest in the nation’s history, though it would have been worse if not for Leppe’s radical (if harsh) tactics. Rationing was almost immediately imposed at the strictest of limits, having been stored in buildings in the center of the city. Every day at noon, a bell would ring from a tower, signaling for citizens to come and take their share of rations for that night and next morning. Despite this, there were arguments between Leppe and his superiors. While he wanted to nationalize the industries in order to better manage them, rather than through the bureaucracy, the generals would not allow it nor his plans of extraditing minorities into the countryside. Although a military junta ruled, they had simply taken the power of the presidency, and wished to keep some vestiges of the democratic government that had previously existed. Major Henry Darrow in particular began to think that putting Col. Leppe in charge of the nation was a mistake. He began to communicate directly with the head of the Republic’s Parliament, Francis Gringins, about his possible impeachment, and having himself put in his stead.
It is not known exactly how Leppe found out about either the plan, or that Gringins and Maj. Darrow were even talking with each other, but the response was quick, and efficient. In a speech given to Parliament on February 14, outlining the current situation, Leppe brought up the proposed coup:
“In the last couple days……there have been discussions…….discussions proposing the dissolution of our fair democracy………to be replaced with tyranny and division! Those who did not take part in the plot……including me…….were to be shot…….or hung until dead……in order to prevent resistance. I have here……..a list of names of…….traitors…….involved in those discussions………who were to be given posts…..of great power within this new proposed government. These individuals are to be lead out by soldiers loyal to the state……..and imprisoned…….for the treason that they had nearly succeeded in committing……..during a time that should call for unity. Long Live the Republic!”
Francis Gringins, Major Darrow and many other of Leppe’s superiors, including 24 opposition figures within Parliament, were escorted out into the street and taken out into the countryside. It is not exactly known what was done to them, but since they were never heard or seen again, it is assumed that they were summarily executed.
What was left of democracy was rapidly dismantled in the following weeks. Parliament passed to Leppe (under the rifles of the TBDF, now entirely loyal to Leppe) emergency powers that effectively made Parliament powerless. Parliament itself would be dissolved on April 24, after Colonel Leppe was sure any outcry would be minor. Despite calls for resistance, Giraud was still considered by many a hero, having gotten them through the harsh winter, and having prevented a coup by fascist elements within the military. All opposition that did appear in Thunder Bay to the rule of Giraud Leppe was immediately removed, through whatever means was deemed necessary.
Cementing of the Regime
The new military regime lead by Colonel Leppe knew that now was the best time to constitute reforms that would ensure their dominance for years to come. As a result, a number of edicts were passed, largely in part due to a lack of any opposition, though there are doubts one could have formed during this time as well.
- The President is elected to a life term, which can only be ended if he is impeached by the Republic’s Parliament (now defunct) or he dies while serving office. In that case, the Chief of the Army takes control of the office, until new elections can be organized.
- The New Democratic Party, the Conservative Party, and the Liberal Party are all hereby dissolved, and are not allowed to be reformed or reconstituted by any means, unless permission is given by the state.
- The Thunder Bay Defense Force is hereby the law enforcement of the country, handling the carrying out of all laws and rulings by the President or Parliament.
- The President of the Republic of Thunder Bay has the power to tax, to commander the armed forces of the nation, to regulate social and economical issues in the nation, to give and strip away citizenship, to dissolve and form parliament, to appoint cabinet members, to ban or allow political parties, to choose his successor in the case of impending death, and to run the nation as he sees fit.
Many of these rules were contradictory, but so was the goal of the edicts. While also giving a sense of security for the citizenry, it also extended Leppe’s powers to such an extent that he was a virtual god within Thunder Bay. Soon, by Presidential decree, pictures and posters of him began to appear throughout the city. Everyone was required to have one, and if there was any suspicion that it had been defaced, the said person received what could be considered a death sentence, though by law they were expelled from the nation’s boundaries. In reality, they were forced to slave in the fields outside of the city, growing food or harvesting materials under inhumane conditions.
The military soon achieved a position of dominance within the city, having almost complete freedom outside of the control exerted by the Chief of the Army and President Leppe himself. Those who were members of the military formed the highest part in society by 1986, and many clamored to join whenever the recruiting station opened up. Along with higher ration rates, TBDF soldiers generally were overall given increased freedoms and their officers more so, such as better housing, furniture, access to sections of the local library, and even freedom to criticize the government for that matter. Those who took that final liberty, however, often found themselves being discharged from the service, and so it was rarely, if ever, exercised.
As mentioned before, slave labor became an increasingly common method of when it came to getting rid of dissenters. Largely devised by Leppe’s friend, Chief of the Army General Banyan, political and domestic dissidents would be sent to cultivate the land’s resources. While keeping them away from the main population, both urban and rural, they would still provide some form of assistance to the state. Those who were especially dedicated to their work were supposed to be freed, though few known individuals have ever earned this freedom. Even those who have earned it are under constant supervision, and must be escorted by the TBDF wherever they are going, even if it is just across the street. Searches would be made of their homes on a weekly basis, and they were repeatedly tested on their new-found loyalty to the state. Thus, it is considered by many that they simply traded one prison for another.
The Tragedy of Thunder Bay
Recent studies show that Colonel Giraud Leppe was a member of the Nationalist Party of Canada, which would explain his goals over the next couple of years. Though Leppe did not want to create unnecessary unrest, he could not overcome his views upon white supremacy, and, on July 2, 1985, intentionally gave orders that all rations of minority groups, specifically African-American, Native Americans, and Asians, be reduced to a level that was considered barely above substinence. As had been feared by his Chief of Staff, riots broke out the next day when the rationing orders were first being given out. TBDF Soldiers after failing to quell the uprising first shoot over the rioters' heads, and then into the crowd itself. It is estimated that 150 individuals died that day at the hands of the military.
Minority leaders, in hopes of gaining support, decided to organize a march at the next ration pick-up, in hopes that they would earn sympathy from the white population that seemed to be benefiting (in reality, they really weren’t. Whites only got 1/10th of the food minorities lost, due to their already dominant status demographically). On June 3, 2,500 citizens marched in single-file to receive their rations from the improvised warehouses in the center of town. They never made it there. Shortly after the march had begun, it had reached the ears of Col. Leppe, who promptly ordered the march to be stopped, and those participating jailed. On June 18, political rallies, marches, or anything in protest to the government’s policies was explicitly banned.
Discrimination laws were passed during the month of August, meant to segregate the society of minorities from city itself. In many cases, minorities were simply kicked out of homes that they lived in, either by law enforcement or the TBDF, to make room for whites who currently lived on the street. They were not allowed to frequent the center of town, separating them from the rationing process. Instead, food was dumped into the middle of the developed slums, with fights breaking out over the food piles and over who got how much. When the situation was studied, whites were found to be apathetic to the conditions of the minorities, simply because they themselves were having difficulty surviving. If it meant that they had a better chance of surviving for the next year, in the minds of many, there was no reason, no matter how horrific, that they shouldn’t. That doesn’t mean everyone was apathetic to the situation being experienced by minorities. One man, known as Zachary McConnell, was particularly disgusted by the treatment minorities were receiving, both in and outside of the city. He set up what is now known as the AAMG (Association for the Advancement of Minority Groups). The group failed to gain much traction, with its membership peaking at 87. AAMG was unofficially disbanded in 1990, when its members, including its leader McConnell, were arrested and jailed, on the basis of performing anti-government activities.
In March 1991, it was finally decided by Leppe that the minority groups had to be removed. Discrimination laws had prevented doing much in the way of work, and though the amount was negligible, they were considered a drain upon the food supply. On March 10, the TBDF was ordered by Leppe to disperse the minorities, and remove them from the city premises. Though the process was muddled (3,000 people died, along with 12 TBDF Soldiers), the overall goal was accomplished. The only thing that this accomplished, however, was the end of safety outside of the city. For the next several years, militant groups made up of the minorities forced out of the city would repeatedly raid farmland outside of the city, beginning a guerrilla war with the TBDF that still continues today. However, these raids have become less frequent, largely due to the expected decline in militants following countless battles in the countryside.
The Republic of Superior
On May 16, 1991, mysterious vessels bearing markings similar to the United States military were sighted by coastal guards early that morning. Chatter immediately proceeded up the ladder until it reached President Leppe himself, who proceeded to debate with himself whether contact should be made. What he was most fearful of was that the United States had survived, and would remove him from power if his nation’s existence were found out. Still, his people were becoming uneasy, and he needed some beacon of hope in order to maintain control regardless. He eventually ordered that the vessels be lead to the city docks, where he would personally greet the passers-by.
It quickly became evident that, while the men were indeed from the former United States, they represented a separate government known as “The Republic of Superior”, based in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The officers from the expedition also informed Leppe that he currently controlled the only stable government they had yet made contact with, though there was plenty of lawlessness surrounding the Great Lakes region. However, the exchange was also met with a hint of disgust. Despite Leppe’s attempts to cover the authoritarian style of his government, going so far as to grant additional freedoms for the extent of the expedition's stay, interviews with the locals revealed the façade that was being shown. When pressed on the issue after several days, the President relented, and admitted to the fascist system he had imposed upon the city. Upon the request of the expedition commander, Leppe had promised that the freedoms he had extended to the people over the last couple weeks would be made permanent. However, this was in the end withdrawn, and most of the laws were reversed by the end of that July.
The Beginnings of Democratic Reform
Following the 1992 election in the Republic of Superior, foreign relations between the two countries for a time grew rather cold, especially following President O’Hara’s comparisons between Giraud Leppe and Adolf Hitler. However, it would quickly turn to the better following the initiative of Secretary of State Russ Feingold, who advocated a “middle path” between those of the Republican and Democratic parties. Trade relations would be opened, and foreign aid delivered, in return for Democratic reform of the Thunder Bay government. President Leppe was unsure of the course he should take, largely because it was about the amount of power his regime would be able to maintain. At time, though, trade would increase the economic power of his country, and the aid could be put to many uses. As a result, Leppe agreed, but only if the democratic reform was relatively minor, including most of the powers remaining with the President and a weak and near powerless Parliament. Despite objections within Superior, what got their support was the extent of civil liberties Leppe was willing to grant to his constituents, though in a later amendment to the constitution, these could be made void if so requested by the President in a time of crisis.
The aid package would narrowly pass the Congress and Superior, and within a month Thunder Bay became one of the most prosperous ports in the Great Lakes region. Buildings within the city were modernized with the aid of contractors from Superior; infrastructure was repaired after nearly a decade of decay. However, democratization would be pushed in return for trade and foreign aid in 1995 and 1997, though the results were meager at best in pushing for additional political freedom.
After the re-establishment of communications with the Canadian government in 2001 in the wake of the success of Superior’s second Recon Expeditionary Force, Leppe was pressured by some local politicians to rejoin with the mother country. The Canadians were especially anxious for this to happen in order to legitimize their claims to the Great Lakes, which had since come increasingly under the control of the Superior. President Leppe would however decide to maintain his power, and decide against reunification, based on the principle that the people of Thunder Bay are Canadians no longer, but citizens of the Great Lakes.
Throughout 2008, there were increased reports that President Leppe was in poor health, though it was not known from what ailment, if any, he suffered from. He had not chosen a successor to rule in his stead, whether he died or was incapacitate. According to the Constitution as it stood in 2008, a temporary President would be elected by the Parliament.
The Death of Colonel Leppe
On Jan. 7, 2009 Leppe died in his sleep. According to the constitution the Thunder Bay Parliament met to appoint a new president. They appointed Bill Mauro, a very liberal (by Thunder Bay standards) representative that promised to give more power to the Parliament. General Fremont, who was the head of the Thunder Bay military and saw himself as the rightful successor to Leppe and was worried about the military losing power, launched a military coup. Mauro was barely able to escape the city of Thunder Bay with his life. Mauro, along with forces loyal to the Parliament, went to the town of Grand Portage and began to build defenses around the town. Superior, seeing the opportunity to democratize Thunder Bay pledged its support to the Mauro government and began sending aid in the form of weapons, air support, and men.
The Fall of the Fremont regime
With almost no support from the Thunder Bay population and the Superior Air Force bombing Fremont's army, Fremont was forced to pull back to the city of Thunder Bay. As Superior and pro-democracy Thunder Bay forces surrounded the city, Fremont was killed by a Superior bomb. His army surrendered almost immediately. Superior began sending massive amount of aid to Thunder Bay and Mauro began reorganizing the Thunder Bay government into a replica of the pre-Doomsday Canadian government. A referendum was scheduled for April 10, 2010 on whether Thunder Bay should join Superior or Canada or remain independent. By now the weak provisional government held a fragile hold over Thunder Bay, and talks of whether or not to become an exclave of Canada were beginning since popular sentiment showed that uniting with Superior only caught on with some 20% of the voters, possibly in a response to their intervention.
Prior to the death of Leppe - and also during the period where the city was controlled by Fremont - the government of Thunder Bay continually spouted off in support of Saguenay. However, the city government otherwise maintained a more neutral stance, given the attitudes of the population.
The referendum resulted in no option leading to a clear majority, but with the two most favored choices being rejoining Canada or retaining their independence. Joining Superior or becoming a protectorate combined only held about a quarter of voters. Around 44% favored Canada, while around 29% wanted to remain independent.
Another round of voting was scheduled for July 16, in which the options were to remain independent, or to rejoin Canada. It was also announced that any rejoining would be with conditions - that some sort of all-weather road be built between Canadian territory along Hudson Bay and their territory, by 2015 or so.
When all the votes were counted up, a slim majority - by a margin of 54% to 46% - were in favor of rejoining Canada, with the condition. It is believed that a fair amount of the reason for this occurrence is an up-swell in Canadian nationalism following the end of the Saguenay War.
With this, overall authority for the region passed to the Canadian government, though the region is still governed by pretty much the same people as it was before the referendum. Negotiations are currently underway to define its powers, given the isolation from the rest of Canada by ground, but the area has still been declared as the territory of "Northern Ontario" by the Canadian government.
Alfie MacLeod, a long-time politician from the Province of Nova Scotia, was sent out by the Canadian government to serve as the Lieutenant-Governor shortly thereafter.
Shortly after the rejoining, it was agreed that new elections would occur on November 14, 2011, to establish a new local government, and to elect representatives from the area to the House of Commons as well.
Negotiations eventually gave the local government powers that while not on the same level as a province, were more than a normal territory. Basically, they were given rights to most of their natural resources, along with a small amount of authority to conduct affairs - similar to the rights established at Kingston - with local powers.
The 2011 elections kept Bill Mauro in power as Premier, and gave his coalition of Liberals and Conservatives a majority in the territorial legislature over members of the Canada First Party and various Independents. No New Democrats managed to get elected. Premier Mauro and his coalition won eleven out of the seventeen seats in the legislature, versus two for the Canada First Party and the remaining four seats returning extreme right-wing independents. Federally, two liberals, two conservatives, and a member of the Canada First Party were elected to Parliament.
Government and Politics
Premier Mauro's governing coalition, composed of five liberals - including Mauro himself - and six conservatives, is composed of many of the same reformers from the fighting in 2009. While they are formally affiliated with these parties, there is no doubt that they are of the more conservative wings of both of them.
Besides his coalition, there are a pair of seats held by the Canada First Party, and another four held by independents who had been supporters of Colonel Leppe and General Fremont.
Federally, five seats were assigned to the territory. The following MPs were elected:
- Joe Comuzzi, Progressive Conservative Party, Fort William
- Keith Hobbs, Canada First Party, Kashabowie-Paipoonge-Neebing
- Stan Dromisky, Progressive Conservative Party, Port Arthur
- Lynn Peterson, Liberal Party, Thunder Bay-Island
- Ernie Epp, Liberal Party, Thunder Bay-Lakehead
The territory, while having become more moderate since 2009, is still more conservative than most of the rest of the country.
Culture and Sports
Thunder Bay has professional teams in each of the three leagues of Superior - the Thunder Bay Twins of the Superior Baseball League, the Thunder Bay Giants of the Superior Football League, and most importantly, the Thunder Bay Maple Leafs of the Superior Hockey League