At least two groups in northeastern Ontario are calling on the province's northern development and mines minister, Rick Bartolucci, to resign or retire.

The North Bay Chamber of Commerce and the union representing Ontario Northland Transportation Commission workers have made the requests.


Minister of Northern Development and Mines Rick Bartolucci (CBC)

There are several reasons for the request to resign, including the sale of the ONTC, said John Strang, the president of the North Bay Chamber of Commerce.

"We believe that this issue is bigger than just the Northlander and the ONTC," he said.

"We believe that it's a hit at our way of life in northern Ontario. One of the frustrating points for us is that our tax dollars, northern Ontario's tax dollars, continue to subsidize transportation in southern Ontario. You know, those numbers don't come out and they're not being brought out."

Strang said the chamber plans to take its fight to the premier as well, saying the Liberal government has failed northern Ontario.

In response to commentary on CBC Sudbury’s Morning North program, Bartolucci’s spokesperson Laura Blondeau recently remarked on Twitter the Ontario Liberals have "opened Hwy 11, invested in [the] North Bay airport, built [a] North Bay [and] Mattawa Hospital [and] will continue to invest in [the] North.

Blondeau also tweeted the "ONTC train and bus compete against each other [and the] train runs below 50 per cent capacity. [The province’s] $400 subsidy per passenger [is] unsustainable."

She later added the "NDP sold [the] ONTC trucking line [and the] PCs sold [the] air line. Both [are] now successful private sector northern businesses employing northerners."