Stalled at a railroad crossing – by Dave Dale (North Bay Nugget – February 13, 2014)

It’s like watching the slowest train wreck in history. Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne visited North Bay last week to do what leaders of a party and province are expected to do in an election year.

Wynne highlighted a funding grant to a mining service company, a primary vertebrae in the economic backbone of this diversified yet strained regional economy.

She also gave the official nod to the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission managers to sit down with the unions and finalize a three-year business plan “template.”

Mayor Al McDonald described it as the best news we’ve heard since the governing Liberals decided two years ago they wanted to chop up and sell the Ministry of Northern Development and Mine’s wart.

I call it a wart because it’s consistently viewed by successive Ontario governments as a financial liability instead of an economic engine.

Of course, there’s not enough money left over after blowing it on gas plant moves to invest in the ONR infrastructure (rails, bridges and rolling stock) and at the same time prop up the under-funded pension plan.

Maybe with a few union concessions and a payroll shrunken by attrition (retirements and migration), they might have a chance if a big chunk of change is found in the sofa cushions.

And that’s why they’ll have to keep the door open to “divesting” the Ontera division, which has some blue chip value after tens of millions in telecommunications infrastructure invested this past decade.

A cynic would describe it like putting a new roof on a house, selling it for half the price and then moving into the garage. It might be reality, but skip the ribbon cutting and balloons.

To summarize, the government will rationalize rail transportation as part of the northern resource extraction to come in the near future if they can sell something else. You can keep your son, but we want to sell the daughter.

For the rest of this article, click here: