Tuesday, 23 January, 2001

    Council to ask premier to delay privatization of Ontario Northland

    City council will write to Premier Mike Harris asking for a delay in disposition of the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission to allow Northern communities time to seek alternatives.

    Council unanimously supported a resolution prepared by Coun. Denis Saudino to send copies of a letter to the premier, the transportation minister and the chairman of ONTC. Saudino said the proposal for privatization or devolution would take away the moneymaker ONTel and then the rest just falls apart.

    The former chairman of ONTC who served in the job from 1991 to 1997, is strongly opposed to it, he said.

    The Crown corporation had already had budget cutbacks beginning with the newly-elected Harris government taking away $7 million when it took power in 95 and then another cutback of $4 million the following year.

    They (the government) basically tied their (the ONTC) hands even though they continued to make some money.

    The corporation has positive points, Saudino explained.

    ONTel provides good service at less than half the cost charged by Northern Tel in nearby communities, he said.

    Northland rail service has been in business since the 1800s and should be preserved, he added.

    This is a government that selling something that they never paid anything for, said Coun. Dennis Welin. The ONTC never paid a nickel for any square inch of land.

    The land belonged to Northerners. I think the ONTC should be seen by the community and should be seen by the people of Ontario as something thats owned by the people of the North.


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