The fight to stop the divestment of Ontario Northland continued Wednesday as North Bay Mayor Al McDonald welcomed Cochrane Mayor Peter Politis and members of the Coalition for Algoma Passenger Trains out of Sault Ste. Marie for a whistle stop in North Bay.
Politis, calling Premier Dalton McGuinty approach to the whole situation arrogant and insulting, says the non comunication from McGuinty has fueled the fight to stop the sale and galvanized the effort of the Northeastern mayors to challenge the provincial government. A feat that is unprecedented.
“This divestiture is the straw that broke the camel’s back and we’re not prepared to take our foot off the gas at this point,” he told the crowd of passengers and employees gathered on the platform.
“This is something we need to push forward. And we need to push forward because it’s bad for northern Ontario it’s not good to privatize the ONTC.”
“It is not a time for the province to be backing away and divesting from something as critical as rail in northern Ontario. It’s a time for the province to be involved, to recognise that we need to enhance the rail.”
"They need to find the innovations and creativity to help people learn how to use the rail, and to recognise rail from an environmental standpoint and from an economic standpoint is a huge part of the future in northern Ontario. We cannot let our to continue to be divested and eroded away to where we have nothing but the highway to rely on."
He says while the focus has been drum up fight support in Northern Ontario they are prepared to take the next step and move the fight south.
Spokesperson for the Coalition for Algoma Passenger Trains, Linda Savory-Gordon, says the sale of the ONTC impacts all the north.
She says her group has been fighting to resurrect passenger service from Sault Ste. Marie to North Bay and Sault Ste. Marie to Cochrane for a number of years now.
Local Chamber of Commerce president, John Strang, says they are turning up the heat on McGuinty in his home riding as they have purchased a full page ad in Friday’s Ottawa Sun newspaper explaining just how the sale of the ONTC will not only impact North Bay but their riding as well.