What would change if employees owned ONR? – by John R. Hunt (North Bay Nugget – July 19, 2011)

The North Bay Nugget, established in 1907, is the daily newspaper for the northeastern Ontario community of North Bay.

What is wrong with the ONR? Ask this question anywhere in Northern Ontario and you will likely get at least a dozen answers. Ask it in Southern Ontario and you will discover no one has ever heard of the ONR and few give a hoot about Northern Ontario.

The current furor over the ONR repair shops losing a contract to a non-unionized Quebec outfit deserves much more fundamental thinking than it is getting.

The McGuinty mob is being pilloried because it did not intervene to protect the ONR. No one has pointed out how McGuinty and company would be excoriated if GO Train passengers discovered they had to pay extra so that North Bay jobs were protected. At the same time in this rough, tough and brutal world, no one asks the ONR why it is not more competitive?

The Nugget ripped the Band-Aid off a sore point when it revealed the ONTC is comprised of a gaggle of health care bureaucrats and educators. It also has a retired cop presumably charged with keeping them safe from outraged citizens.

Of course there is much howling how the Tories will replace these politically correct do-gooders with hard headed business people and transportation experts.

This is more humbug and knee-jerk thinking. The ONR has had commissions appointed by Conservative, Liberal and NDP governments. None of them have been very effective. Commissioners representing Northern communities are primarily concerned with getting something or other for their little mud puddle.

I have not seen any imaginative leadership at the ONR since it was run by Archie Freeman and Col. C.E. Reynolds back in the 1950s. Reynolds wanted to build a port at Moosonee or somewhere on Ontario’s north coast. Glance at a map and see how this would transform Ontario. Unfortunately the idea is too big for our southern Ontario masters to comprehend.

The Tories may or may not sell the ONR when they gain power. The NDP will hand it on a plate to the unions and the Liberals will do everything or nothing to please as many as possible.

There is one solution that is radical and glaringly obvious. Turn the whole outfit over to the employees.

For the rest of this column, please go to the North Bay Nugget: http://www.nugget.ca/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=3220675