Liberals, Bartolucci have betrayed the North – by John R. Hunt (Sudbury Star – March 24, 2012)

The Sudbury Star is the City of Greater Sudbury’s daily newspaper.

John R. Hunt is a columnist for the North Bay Nugget whose appears on occasion in The Sudbury Star.

Promises are made to be broken and northeastern Ontario has been betrayed.

Ontario’s debt-ridden and too often incompetent government intends to throw the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission into the political dumpster and sell its assets.

No one knows future of more than 950 jobs. The implications for North Bay and every town and village as far north as Moosonee are serious. But the real meaning may be tragic for all Ontario.

It is a victory for southern suburban thinking. There is no vision, no hope and no ambition to create a truly great Ontario.

Southern Ontario needs northern gold, silver, copper, diamonds and the riches to be ripped out of the Ring of Fire. There is no vision for Northern Ontario except perhaps to make it a vacation home for privileged southerners.

The bad news was delivered in Sudbury by McGuinty’s hatchet man, Rick Bartolucci, in his new role as Minister of Northern Abandonment.

He lacked the courage or common decency to say it in North Bay, where the ONR was born and still plays an important role in this city’s economy.

The ONTC, with its mix of bus, telecommunications and rail services, should be playing a vital role in not only developing the North, but in establishing lasting and vital communities with viable economies. Instead, it will be scrapped.

This is a warning for all communities to the north and west, as far as the Manitoba border. If you cannot produce what enriches southern Ontario and tax revenue for Queen’s Park, you have no future. It is very clear the North is of little consequence to our political masters.

The North is also at fault.

Northern politicians have complained about train service, but too often preferred to drive a car. Too often communities have taken the ONTC for granted and not done much to support it.

For most of the past 50 years, the ONTC has been run by politically appointed commissioners who were often concerned with protecting the special interests they represented. They were rarely able to get unions working with them for the common good.

The North faces a crisis. It is a time for new thinking and working together. Forget the provincial government, it is a broken reed. Northern communities must now work together as they never have before.

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