Let's get right back to work.
Here is the letter I have already hand-delivered to Premier-Designate Kathleen Wynne, regarding Ontario Northland ...
... January 28, 2013
Hon. Kathleen Wynne
Premier-Designate of Ontario
Room 281, Main Legislative Building
Dear Premier-Designate Wynne:
First, let me congratulate you on becoming Ontario’s newest premier.
I want to make it perfectly clear, however, that I do not support your fire sale of the Ontario
Northland Transportation Commission, and offer my following thoughts.
This past summer, my colleague Norm Miller (MPP for Parry Sound-Muskoka and Ontario PC Northern Development and Mines Critic) and I travelled 1,600 km and held ONTC consultations in seven Northern communities: Englehart, Timmins, Iroquois Falls, Cochrane, Kapuskasing, Hearst, and North Bay.
During these consultations, the message we heard loud and clear was that businesses are not expanding and hiring because they have no idea what will come of this chaos. In fact one multinational told us they cancelled their planned $10 million expansion because they didn’t know if they would have a viable way to ship their products next year. The complete lack of faith in the current Liberal government was extraordinary. It’s clear this government has no plan, and business and municipal leaders are angry they weren’t consulted.
Our consultations revealed that you should:
Ensure Ontario Northland’s RAIL FREIGHT division remain publicly owned.
Selling off this asset is simply impractical.
Furthermore, Northern Development Minister Rick Bartolucci is clearly out of his depth and in over his head. But most importantly, his ham-fisted handling of a 100-year old provincial crown agency has devalued the assets for sale and already cost jobs and investment in the North. He has completely lost the trust and goodwill of local communities and their business and municipal leaders. As such, it is my strongest recommendation that he be removed as Minister of Northern Development and Mines as soon as possible.
For the Ontario PC Party, it all starts with jobs. Critical economic infrastructure like the ONTC is the foundation of Northern job creation, and the way this government is treating it has cut the legs out from underneath this part of our economy. That’s why I’m asking you today to halt any plans to sell Ontario Northland’s rail freight division.
My party believes Ontario Northland rail freight is strategically-critical infrastructure to economic development and private sector job creation in the North, and thus must remain publicly owned.
One approach is the New Deal for Ontario Northland, which proposes a publicly-owned rail transportation solution for the vital Ring of Fire mining development. It is my firm belief that the best way to transport ore is by rail. We cannot afford any more delays on this file and I urge you to quickly come to a decision and then implement a strong course of action to start mining activity in the Ring of Fire.
In addition, if you plan to continue with the fire sale of Ontario Northland, you can minimize the damage done by:
Replacing the government’s ham-fisted fire sale of the ONTC with a Strategic Asset Review of all ONTC assets, operations, and services, including:
- Full consultation with Northern municipal and business leaders;
- All decisions based on a clear-eyed view of what makes money, what doesn’t, and whether or not the government should be in this business. Our lens for every decision must be private-sector job creation in the Northeast; and,
- Allowing the union to compete for any service or privatization
transferring the ONTC from the Ministry of Northern Development to the Ministry of Transportation, where it would have greater access to the capital envelope and be treated as an integral part of the province’s transportation network; and
appointing an ONTC board of directors based on transportation and business expertise, not patronage.
You have a responsibility to ensure that all residents of this province, including those in Northern Ontario, have an equal opportunity to succeed and prosper. But this chaotic fire sale of Ontario Northland has already cost jobs and investment in the region and urgent action is required on your part to prevent further damage. I’m available at your convenience and request the opportunity to discuss this issue with you in person, as well as solutions to the disastrous decisions on energy policy that continue to drive up hydro bills in Ontario, causing further job losses. I look forward to hearing from you.