[Ontario] North clearly not united – by John R. Hunt (Sudbury Star – August 22, 2012)


“When I think about it, strapping Bartolucci to the cow catcher might
be more fun than a flogging or getting him to resign. Can anyone help
arrange it?” (John R. Hunt – August 22, 2012)

A distinguished member of the North Bay and District Chamber of Commerce has advocated the immediate resignation of Rick Bartolucci. No doubt you have heard of this politician who enjoys a special place in the hearts of all North Bay citizens.
I would cheerfully advocate a public flogging knowing full well that it might make my readers chuckle, but it will never happen. 
Throwing verbal mud at Dalton McGuinty and his favourite Northern boy is great fun, but does not accomplish much.
This provincial government is amazing. It allowed the refinery at Timmins to close and send ore from the Kidd Creek mine to Quebec. Allowed is the wrong word. Ontario’s energy prices are so ridiculous the mining company had to do something.
Now the government is going to sell Ontera, which is the communications branch of the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission. It used to be the most profitable part of the Crown corporation.
A little bit of history. When the ONR was being constructed, it brought telephone lines with it. In this the provincial railway was much smarter than the big national railways. The big guys ignored the newfangled telephone because they wanted to protect their telegraph business.
The ONR had a monopoly on long distance. In the early years if anyone wanted to call Toronto they had to go to the nearest ONR station. With a few exceptions, the railway left local service to a host of independent telephone companies.
In 1905 when the ONR reached New Liskeard, there were about 400 telephone companies in Ontario. Many were started by doctors. They bought a switch board, had some lines strung around their area and made it easy for their patients to contact them.
Times have changed, not always for the best, but why is the province in such a hurry to get rid of a still profitable company?
I understand that representatives of more than 400 Ontario municipalities have gathered in southern luxury for their annual Association of Municipalities of Ontario convention. Some Northern political leaders have indicated they will try to get support for their fight to keep the ONTC alive.
I shall be surprised if the Northerners get anymore than token backing. Assorted cabinet ministers and their flunkies will go from room to room slapping backs. They will whisper in every ear that ONTC had to be killed so the government would have more money to help the hard done by and deserving municipalities in southern Ontario.
There is no such thing as Northern unity. Bartolucci looks after Sudbury very well. He’s getting it a new chromite refinery and a few hundred jobs. What more can a good Sudbury boy do for the people?
Sorry to sound so cynical but there have been so many missed opportunities. The ONTC, and everyone else, enjoyed more than 20 years of prosperity when the railway was hauling iron pellets from the Sherman mine at Temagami and the Adams mine near Kirkland Lake.
So many things could have been done for the railway and the region. I have written it before but thousands of Germans are crazy about North American First Nations. Why not fly them to North Bay and have train tours to Temagami and Moosonee?
I remember when the ONR combined public relations with industrial development. There was rarely any real thought or drive behind it.
For the rest of this column, please go to the North Bay Nugget website: http://www.nugget.ca/2012/08/21/north-clearly-not-united

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