GCA spokesman Brian Kelly (r) joined by Timmins James Bay MP Charlie Angus (l) Timiskaming-Cochrane MPP John Vanthof and union representatives to mark ONR last spike anniversary Monday.
It was on July 15, 1932 that the last spike was driven into up in Moosonee completing the Ontario Northland Railway line and members of the General Chairpersons Association celebrated the anniversary with a barbeque lunch Monday.
GCA spokesman Brian Kelly, joined by Timiskaming-Cochrane MPP John Vanthof, Timmins James Bay MP Charlie Angus and union representatives, said not only does the anniversary offer a time to look back on what rail has allowed the province and the country to accomplish but it also encourages everyone to look to the future of rail.
He says on a moment’s notice the GCA can meet with Premier Wynn to discuss and offer up business plans for the ONTC versus divestment.
The ever outspoken MP Charlie Angus, who he grew up travelling on the ONR trains, called the McGuinty cabinet a lazy ass close minded government for the ONTC fire sale they started last year.
“Today let’s look back at where we’ve been,” he told the ONTC employees.
“A 30 year investment of opening the north that was an incredible commitment by a government of that time to say Ontario is not going to be the province it is meant to be unless we open up the north. And the rail going north of North Bay opened Cobalt which opened up the largest silver boom in North American history, opened Kirkland Lake, opened Noranda, Timmins I mean right after the big fire in Timmins they had the real lines in as quickly as possible to get supplies to people … opening all the way up to James Bay. So 81 years ago today they were on Moosonee saying this is our commitment everything from James Bay to Toronto is now connected.”
“So then fast forward to what we had last year where we had a ‘lazy ass close-minded government’ that said geez what was this investment all for we don't need it anymore and they attempted the fire sale,” he states.
“They were just going to sell all of this off like junk furniture --we've stopped the fire sale and that's a huge, huge step now we have to take it back we have to continue pressure. Everywhere I go every community that I am in along the rail line people come up to me and say we want the train back we want passenger service we have a right to passenger service we have a right to safe passage on these northern routes in the winter.”
Vanthof says Premier Wynn and Northern Development and Mines Minister Michael Gravelle are talking the talk and now he wants to see them walk the walk.