Monday, 19 February, 2001

    ONTC board should be replaced, mayors say

    Several area community leaders called for the replacement of the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission (ONTC) board during the Northeastern Ontario Municipal Association (NEOMA) meeting Saturday.

    While three ONTelcom employees picketed against selling off the ONTC outside the meeting, the Towns of Cochrane, Black River-Matheson and Iroquois Falls submitted resolutions asking for NEOMAs support.

    People across the North are unhappy with the board, said Timmins-James Bay MPP Gilles Bisson. We need to make sure people (on the board) speak on behalf of Northerners.

    Timmins Coun. Denis Saudino said when the decision about the future of the ONTC came Dec. 4, he found it implausible every commissioner on the board was in favour of the sell off. With people from across the North representing the interests of people in different communities, how could there be 100 per cent support?

    Cochrane Coun. R.J. Brisson is calling on schools, businesses and area residents to flood Premier Mike Harris and Northern Development and Mines Minister Dan Newman with letters and e-mails to add their names to a list of those who want the ONTC reinvented as a crown agency.

    We need the ONTC to prosper for years to come, Brisson said.

    The resolutions will be forwarded to Harris, Newman, ONTC chairman Royal Poulin.

    Our voice has been and continues to be loud and clear, Brisson said. We need to stay fully united. We need the support and participation of all the communities throughout this.

    However, Brisson said the provincial government is trying to play some communities against others.

    With Timmins, North Bay, Sudbury, Sault Ste. Marie and Thunder Bay interested in collectively purchasing ONTelcom, Brisson said the decision would hurt all of Northeastern Ontario.

    Such a move would be detrimental, Brisson said, adding the cost to consumers would be increased.

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