Representatives from the General Chairperson’s Association (GCA) which represents all unionized employees at Ontario Northland (ONTC) were at Queen’s Park Tuesday to support the campaign by communities from Muskoka to the Far North on the importance of the Northlander to their area. During question period, when the government was as asked about their plan to abandon the north with the cancellation of the Northlander train service, Finance Minister Dwight Duncan could be heard heckling “Nobody is on the train! Nobody is on the train!!”
“We are appalled by the comments of the Finance Minister. We are well aware of the childish heckling antics of the government side but what is disconcerting is the undertones of contempt and complete a lack of respect for the 40,500 Northerners who rely on the Northlander yearly. Mr. Duncan should immediately apologize for his disparaging comments to Northerners inferring that they are nobodies!” said GCA spokesperson Brian Kelly.
The GCA wrote Finance Minister Duncan earlier this month over his revealing comments to the Standing Committee on Estimate where he declared that the ONTC Pension Plan was “horribly mismanaged”. Minister Duncan’ comments has rocked current employees and retirees alike who are at a lost to understand as to how the Province has mismanaged our Pension Plan and demanded Duncan to investigate and report to Plan Members the seriousness of this mismanagement. Minister Duncan has yet to reply to this shocking disclosure.
“Minister Duncan, Northerners value and depend on the Northlander passenger train service, they take the train at an ever increasing number for many reasons. Your government’s plan to cancel the important rail service is just another example of your government’s disdain for anything north of highway 7. Minister Duncan’s childish and irresponsible heckling in the legislature referencing Northerner’s as “nobody” is more evidence that the contempt for the North is pervasive in the government benches”, concluded Kelly.