More support to revitalise ONTC – by Henry Lazenby ( -December 18, 2012)

TORONTO ( – The New Deal for Northern Ontario, an initiative to revitalise the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission (ONTC), build a rail link to the Ring of Fire and create thousands of new jobs, on Monday said it is gaining traction as more role-players voice support for the initiative.

Liberal leadership candidate Harinder Takhar recently issued a policy statement calling for “Divestiture of the ONTC to an independent, self-sustaining organisation, and the development of a new rail line for the ‘Ring of Fire’ operations.”

Takhar’s statement is closely aligned with the New Deal plan to transfer ownership of provincially-held ONTC’s railroad and other assets to a new ports authority to be operated under the Canada Marine Act. ONTC operations will be strengthened, and a new rail line to the Ring of Fire mineral deposits will be developed to ship chromite, nickel and other minerals and finished products to markets around the world.

MPP Glen Murray, another Liberal leadership candidate, has called on the government to “pause” its plan to divest the ONTC, while Gerard Kennedy is seeking a “review” of the sell-off decision and further examination of ONTC’s potential role in developing the Ring of Fire mineral deposits. Candidate Charles Sousa, meanwhile, supports “a sustainable, reliable ONTC that connects the North and supports jobs.”

A growing number of Northern Ontario municipalities have also spoken up either directly in support of the New Deal or for a pause in the sell-off. This includes North Bay City Council, which unanimously passed a resolution that “strongly supports the New Deal for (ONTC) and encourages all levels of government and other stakeholders to work cooperatively to ensure it is implemented expeditiously and successfully.”

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