The Conservatives want the province to get out of the alcohol business while promising the publicly owned Ontario Northland Transportation Commission has a place in the province's future.
“The government I lead will see the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission as an essential element for economic infrastructure. It's going to open up jobs and create wealth in our province, not shut it down,” Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak said during a conference call to Northern media Wednesday.
“How are you going to get Northeastern Ontario's economy to rebound if you tear apart the ONTC?” Hudak asked.
He made the comments as LCBO workers draw closer to their strike deadline Friday ahead of the Victoria Day long weekend. They're threatening to walk off the job over part-time, temporary work and the lack of quality, full-time positions.
Hudak distinguished his support for one Crown agency and intent to dismantle another by saying the Liberal decision to end the ONTC was politically motivated while the Conservative plan to privatize the LCBO will give residents more choice.
Many communities don't have an LCBO and are looking to the private sector for access to beer, wine and spirits which would increase revenue to the province, Hudak said.
The former minister of Northern Development and Mines has said the ONTC sale affects an area where there's no Liberal seats from North Bay to Moosonee.
There's only one Conservative seat in Northern Ontario which is held by Nipissing MPP Vic Fedeli. He has suggested the province is selling the ONTC to leave North Bay and Timmins out of the Ring of Fire.
The NDP has five seats in Northern Ontario and the Liberals have four.
The Conservatives are expecting more Northern support because of the party's plan giving the North more say into government decisions.
The Northern Vision plan would put a cabinet minister in charge of the Ring of Fire who can clear obstacles to get operations underway at the proposed chromite mine near James Bay.
The party would permit at least 10 new mines in its first five years in office and share resources from these new mines with community and First Nations who host the mines.
The party has said it intends to keep ONTC rail freight in public hands.
The Conservatives would also work with the private sector to build transportation corridors.
Fedeli said that infrastructure would bring power and fibre networks to First Nation communities along the way and offer an option to diesel as a fuel source.
It would also bring jobs and trained workers back to Ontario, he said, explaining 282 men from Mattawa travel to work in Alberta's oil sands for six weeks at a time
“Those families in Mattawa are growing up without a father, because those jobs don't exist in Ontario,” Fedeli said.
He said the mining industry feeds more than 60 businesses in manufacturing in North Bay and the surrounding areas available to supply drill rods and other equipment and services to operations.