Premier’s silence on GO contract stuns Northern leaders – by Ron Grech (The Timmins Daily Press – July 7, 2011)

The Daily Press is the newspaper of record for the city of Timmins.

For the past week, Northern leaders have been calling for a review of a $120-million GO Transit contract awarded to a Quebec firm when Ontario Northland’s bid was just 1.6% higher.

Aside from being declared a bad economic move, “what’s more troubling to us is the government’s position which is really one of silence,” said Alan Spacek, Kapuskasing mayor and president of the Federation of Northern Ontario Municipalities. “The silence from the premier’s office is deafening.”

On June 24, Ontario Northland Transportation Commission announced that Quebec-based Canadian Allied Diesel had been awarded the next GO Transit refurbishment contract by the Metrolinx board of directors to rebuild 121 GO Transit cars.

Spacek along with Tom Laughren, Timmins’ mayor and FONOM vice-president, hosted a press conference in Timmins Thursday to publicly express their concerns and to discuss plans to further lobby the Ontario government.

“It’s simply a bad decision not only for Ontario Northland but for Northern Ontario and the province of Ontario,” said Spacek. “When you take everything into account: The millions of dollars of net benefits to the province. Never mind the fact it would sustain over 100 jobs in North Bay and that’s 100 families. It’s just a bad deal.”

Laughren said he was “stunned” that the “impact on Northern Ontario was not considered” in this decision.

It is particularly disconcerting, he added, at a time when Northeastern Ontario communities are looking to benefit from the rich source of minerals within the James Bay lowlands — a discovery which since been dubbed the Ring of Fire.

“The Ring of Fire is going to have a huge effect on Northern Ontario, Ontario and Canada,” said Laughren. “And if Ontario Northland is not a player, the (benefit to) the Northeast or possibly for all of Northern Ontario is going to be minimal.”

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