Elliot Lake – It is an 84-year tradition at the iconic men’s Brier curling championship – a separate Northern Ontario team - and New Democrats want northerners to “hurry hard” to keep it that way.

Northern New Democrats today launched a campaign they are calling “Northern Ontario Rocks the Brier (Est. 1926)!” They want all northerners, including the estimated 10,000 who curl, to send a strong message not to mess with tradition as the tournament considers format changes that could add a Team Canada and possibly drop Team Northern Ontario. Due to scheduling challenges with an odd number of teams, a few skips have suggested Ontario should have only one representative like other provinces.

“Why mess with history,” asked Carol Hughes. “Northern Ontario is unique and with so many curlers, there is a lot of competition between the rinks up here.”

The petition can be signed online or printed for signatures to be collected. To find the petition, go to

Northern Ontario teams have won the Brier 4 times and played in the championship match 4 times, placed second 5 times and third 11 more. That’s a good record and speaks to the talent level in the region.

There’s been annual chatter at the Brier about the unique two-rink Ontario representation but as three-time Brier champion Rick Lang of Thunder Bay said: ""What makes the Brier one of Canada's great sporting events is the tremendous history and tradition...Northern Ontario has been a significant part of that tradition, both on and off the ice, for over eighty years"”

“A Brier without Northern Ontario would be a big blow to the tradition of the event,” said Hughes. “We have more than enough rinks to compete and have won the Brier four times. We all remember Al “The Iceman” Hackner’s run in the 80s and are confident Northern Ontario will climb the podium again.”