Hudak would ‘suspend’ $122M GO Transit deal going to Quebec – by Tanya Talaga (Toronto Star – August 18, 2011)

The Toronto Star, has the largest circulation in Canada. The paper has an enormous impact on federal and Ontario politics as well as shaping public opinion.

Tory Leader Tim Hudak would “suspend” a $122 million contract with a Quebec firm to refurbish GO Transit coaches if he becomes premier this October.

This is the latest big ticket contract Hudak is looking at nixing. The Tories also intend to get rid of the $7 billion green energy Samsung agreement, which his party has dubbed the “king of all secret, sweetheart deals”.

North Bay’s Ontario Northland Transportation Commission, a Crown corporation, lost the bid to refurbish the GO trains which are owned by Metrolinx, another Crown firm. As a result nearly 109 jobs will be lost, said Nipissing Progressive Conservative candidate Vic Fedeli.

“We would immediately suspend it, then review it to see what our options are,” Fedeli told the Toronto Star on Wednesday.

It is irresponsible and hypocritical of the PCs to suddenly ask the government to ignore a procurement process that ensures the best value for taxpayers, said Kelly Baker, a spokesperson for Transportation Minister Kathleen Wynne. She said the Metrolinx contract went to the lowest bidder.

“The PCs are suggesting that government contracts should not be open and competitively tendered — is this how they would choose to do business?” she asked.

“This kind of political posturing is reckless and ultimately weakens the ability of Ontario’s workforce to compete nationally and internationally.”

The PCs are unsure what the cost is to disentangle from the contract with Quebec-based Canada Allied Diesel Railway Industries Ltd.

Canada Allied bid $2 million less than ONTC, noted Fedeli. But by sending the contract to Quebec, Ontario loses income tax and health premium tax revenue to the tune of $8 million, he said.

“Losing 109 jobs in North Bay is like losing 1,000 jobs in Ottawa,” he said.

New Democratic Party Leader Andrea Horwath said it doesn’t make sense to award a $122 million contract to a Quebec company over an Ontario one due to a $2 million price difference.

“Keeping these jobs in Ontario makes a difference,” she said.

“Mr. Hudak can say what he will about cancelling the contract but what we need is a policy that prevents this from happening in the first place.”

The NDP is campaigning on keeping provincial contracts like Metrolinx’s in Ontario so jobs stay in this province.

Hudak was no friend to the north when he was minister of northern development and mines, said Baker.

“When Mr. Hudak was minister of northern development he moved government offices from the north to Toronto. A move that demonstrates he does not support northern jobs,” she said.

For the rest of this article, please go to the Toronto Star website: http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/politics/article/1040980–hudak-would-suspend-122m-go-transit-deal-going-to-quebec

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