Still stinging over ONTC sell-off – by Wayne Snider (Timmins Daily Press – January 18, 2013)

The Daily Press is the city of Timmins broadsheet newspaper.

COCHRANE — The sting from the death of the Northlander passenger rail service was evident as leaders from across the North met Friday. Continuing lobby efforts to preserve services provided by the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission (ONTC) were discussed by members of the Northeastern Ontario Municipal Association (NEOMA) in Cochrane.

While much of the talk centred on what is being done currently to save freight rail and Ontera telecommunication services, a Cochrane councillor took an MPP to task for not voting against the provincial budget, which contained legislation to sell-off the ONTC.

Under the current minority government situation, voting down the budget would have triggered an Ontario election. The ruling Liberals voted in favour of the budget, while the Tories opposed it. New Democrats, meanwhile, abstained from the vote, allowing it to pass.

MPP John Vanthof (NDP — Timiskaming-Cochrane) was at Friday’s NEOMA meeting. “Why did you not save the ONTC and bring the government down on this issue?” asked Coun. Rey Brisson. “Why didn’t the NDP stand up for Northern Ontario and bring the government down?

“The NDP settled for a few cookies in the budget down south. I was disappointed in the stance.” Vanthof said his party had to look at the bigger picture. While such a move may have delayed the legislation, he said both the ruling Liberals and opposition Tories were bent on privatizing ONTC assets.

“My job as MPP, representing people of the North, is not to be the big man on campus and bring the government down,” he said.

“We had to look past that one vote and find ways to produce results that will save the ONTC.

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