The ongoing saga of the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission will remain this riding’s top issue in the new year, says Nipissing MPP Vic Fedeli.
In a year-end interview, Fedeli said he believes rail will likely be the next division to be sold after Ontera, the ONTC’s telecommunications division.
“I think they’re scrambling to sell Ontera as quickly as possible,” said Fedeli, noting the provincial Conservatives have called for the rail freight division to remain public, plus a strategic review of the remainder of the Crown agency.
A request for proposals was issued Dec. 17 for the purchase of Ontera to firms that pre-qualified as potential buyers in October; and the province has said the successful bidder will be announced in the spring. The province has also indicated it hopes to complete rest of the divestment process by spring as well.
Fedeli said it’s difficult to say what the strategic review his party has promised would involve because it’s unclear what ONTC assets will be left by the time there’s a provincial election.
He said the Conservatives would also move the ONTC from under the Ministry of Northern Development to the Ministry of Transportation. In addition, Fedeli said he signed a petition supporting the proposed New Deal to revitalize the ONTC involving the creation of federal ports authority because it involves keeping the rail freight division in public hands, as well as the transporting of ore from the Ring of Fire chromite find in the James Bay area via rail.
“We believe that ore is moved by rail,” said Fedeli, opposing the Liberal government’s plan to build a road to transport the mined ore and minerals from the remote area.
He said the Ring of Fire will be another key issue in 2013.
“There is no plan,” said Fedeli, suggesting there has been no movement when it comes to the development of the chromite find since he served as mayor of North Bay.
He said companies involved in the Ring of Fire are anxious to get moving. And Fedeli pointed to recent job losses in the city at Boart Longyear Ltd., Atlas Copco and Sandvik Mining and Construction, saying the lack of progress at the Ring of Fire has a direct effect on North Bay, which is home to a number of mining supply firms that stand to benefit.
He said that coupled with the Far North Act, which rules out a vast area of the remote and isolated area of the province to exploration, will adversely affect the industry.
For the rest of this article, please go to the North Bay Nugget website: http://www.nugget.ca/2012/12/29/rugged-first-year-as-mpp