ONTC sell-off built 'resentment,' says former MPP
Long-time politicians say provincial divestment of the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission has been poorly managed
As the region braces for the end of Ontario Northland, some former Northern politicians are questioning how the file was handled.
Passenger rail service on the Northlander ends Friday as the Liberals break up and sell off the transportation commission. The province said it can no longer afford to subsidize Ontario Northland to the tune of $100 million a year.
Former NDP finance minister Floyd Laughren said the decision makes sense to him, but questioned how the Liberals have gone about exiting the transportation business.
"The way it has been done is quite shoddy," said the former MPP, who represented Nickel Belt for almost three decades.
"They didn't get their ducks lined up before they pulled the plug. And I think that was a serious political error."
The announcement this spring to wind down the ONTC was followed by rallies and protests in several northern cities.
Former Conservative MPP Alan Pope said some consultation would have gone a long way.
"It's the whole decision-making process that gives people in my community of Timmins the feeling that nobody is fighting for them anymore," he said.
"And when you get people feeling that kind of resentment you almost want to say to everyone who are the decision-makers and policy makers in Toronto and Ottawa — for all three political parties — ‘go to hell’."
Regardles of the bumpy ride to this point, former Liberal MPP David Ramsay said private business will pick up the slack.
"I think there is a lot of interest from the private sector in providing those other services," Ramsay said.
"I think they really can be viable."
The province said it hopes to sell or wind down the various services provided by Ontario Northland by the spring.
Ontario Northland busses will continue to operate.