Five Northern mayors met with Sudbury MPP Rick Bartolucci, Minister of Northern Development and Mines, to discuss the provincial government’s recent announcement relating to the divestiture of the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission (ONTC).
According to a press release, the minister made it very clear that the decision to divest the ONTC has been made. When asked about his view, Bartolucci said, “I support the government in this decision to divest.”
The April 19 meeting was attended by North Bay Mayor Al McDonald, Timmins Mayor Tom Laughren, Kapuskasing Mayor Al Spacek, Cochrane Mayor Peter Politis and Iroquois Falls Mayor Gilles Forget. They are part of the Mayors of the Northern Communities Working Group.
The politicians referred to a pledge Premier Dalton McGuinty had signed in North Bay 10 years ago to never divest of the ONTC.
“We intend to hold the premier to his word and we expect him to fulfill his contract with the people of Nipissing and across northeastern Ontario,” the mayors' press release said.
The group also wants a meeting with McGuinty.
“We appreciate the meeting we had with Mr. Bartolucci, but we still request a meeting with the premier so he can look us in the eyes and tell us why he is taking this direction,” the press release said.
The mayors want the divestiture paused, the municipalities and other stakeholders be fully and completely consulted, the stakeholders be given the opportunity to consider options and alternatives, and and that McGuinty come to the North and explain to Northerners why he is breaking his pledge of 2002 and turning his back on the initiatives his government proposed in its Northern Growth Plan.
The mayors said the government has no plan in place which addresses the situation beyond the simple decision to divest and the provincial government has not contemplated the impact on northeastern Ontario.