Ontario man believes basic income would lessen use of emergency services

Roderick Benns

He was born in Blind River, the small northern Ontario town immortalized by music legend, Neil Young, in the song Long May You Run. Perhaps ironically, that might be just what Pete Spence did for much of his life. He got in trouble with the law early on. He moved from town to town. When he thought he was close to figuring his life out, a negative experience always seemed to intervene. Now 49, he lives in a rented room in North Bay, still trying to figure out how to live his life.

Early Days

Pete was born into a working class family, along with an older sister who died five years ago. His father worked at a large uranium plant and his mother worked part-time as a cashier for several local businesses. He doesn’t remember the feeling of doing without, except when it came time for field trips during his school-age years.

“I was the kid who always stayed behind. I remember we were going to go on a camping trip to some provincial park. I didn’t make it. I didn’t make any of those things,” he says.

He left high school just shy of his Grade 12 diploma and never did finish.

“I’m surprised I went as far as I did in high school,” he says. “No one really encouraged me, as far as family goes.”

Maybe it was that sense of being without guidance that made Pete decide to hitchhike west to Sault Ste. Marie as soon as he left school. He worked at a factory there for less than a year but didn’t stick with it. He got involved with a “bad crowd,” as he calls it now, and soon began experimenting with various drugs.

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