We are writing you to make you aware of our plan to revitalize the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission

Ontario Northlander train
Ontario Northlander train
Ontario Northlander train
Ontario Northlander train

THUNDER BAY – Open letter to Liberal Leadership candidates in Ontario –

Dr. Eric Hoskins, MPP, St. Paul’s
Mr. Glen Murray, MPP, Toronto Centre
Ms. Sandra Pupatello
Mr. Charles Sousa, MPP, Mississauga South
Ms. Kathleen Wynne, MPP, Don Valley West

NORTH BAY, ON, Nov. 15, 2012

Dear Candidates,

We are writing you to make you aware of our plan to revitalize the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission (ONTC) and create significant new job and economic opportunities in Ontario’s North.

Our initiative, called the New Deal for Northern Ontario, will save existing transportation and communication services and hundreds of jobs in the North, while also creating thousands more jobs by providing rail access to the Ring of Fire mineral deposits. The plan, which includes the development of other competitive infrastructure components into the Ring of Fire region, will deliver significant benefits to First Nations, the region and the mining and related industries.

The New Deal calls for transferring ownership of the railroad and other assets of the provincially-held ONTC to a new ports authority to be operated under the Canada Marine Act. This will ensure that important infrastructure assets are kept in public hands for the benefit of all stakeholders. The first step in this process was recently completed with the creation of The James Bay & Lowlands Ports Trustee Corporation. The new Ports Authority will be led by Roy Hains, who successfully ran ONTC for several years and developed strategies to make Ontario Northland strong and sustainable.

The ONTC has played a significant role in transportation and economic development in Northeastern Ontario for more than a century. Ontario Northland today employs more than 950 workers in the region and has an estimated annual economic impact of almost $210 million in Northeastern Ontario.

Our plan will secure these economic benefits by strengthening ONTC’s operations to ensure that they are economically sustainable. It will also deliver, with the new Ring of Fire rail line, by far the most economic and environmentally friendly solution to ship thousands of tons per day of chromite, nickel and other minerals and finished products to markets around the world.

We are confident that this is the best approach going forward for ONTC, and to drive job creation and economic development in Ontario’s North while also fulfilling the provincial government’s policy objectives and commitments for both the North and First Nations.

The New Deal has the unanimous support of ONTC’s workforce. Other stakeholders actively supporting the plan include First Nations communities, Nipissing-Timiskaming MP Jay Aspin, Northern Ontario communities, and mining and other business interests.

Recently, we met with Northern Development and Mines Minister Rick Bartolucci to outline our proposal. We look forward to continuing discussions with him and officials with MNDM, Infrastructure Ontario and the ONTC.

As the New Deal is an “all in” plan to acquire and make viable all of the ongoing assets of the ONTC, we require information on all of its business lines simultaneously. After we have obtained that information, we will move quickly to submit a proposal outlining our business case.

The current divestment process for ONTC is to place each business unit on the market individually. We are concerned that this places us at a disadvantage to proponents who are now actively engaged in the RFQ for Ontera or will in the coming weeks, be framing their proposals along individual business lines. As the New deal does not fit with unit-by-unit bidding, we are seeking a level playing field that accommodates our “all-in” approach.

We assure you that such an accommodation would not slow down the government’s divestment of ONTC. Our intention is to work in parallel with the existing process. Given that the government’s plan calls for the divestiture of all ONTC assets, in effect we are asking for neither more nor less information than will be required by other proponents submitting proposals on individual business lines.

The key elements needed to make the New Deal for Northern Ontario a success are either already in place or are well underway. We are confident that we can ably demonstrate, as expressed by Minister Bartolucci, “the technical and financial wherewithal to successfully own and operate the ONTC business lines and otherwise meet IO’s criteria.”

We would appreciate an opportunity to meet with you in the next few weeks to outline our plan and its many benefits in more detail. In the meantime, if you have any questions about the New Deal, do not hesitate to contact us.

Yours Sincerely,

Brian Stevens
Representative, General Chairperson’s Association
E: brian.stevens@ontera.net  M: 416-567-8281

Roy Hains
CEO, The James Bay & Lowlands Ports Trustee Corporation
E: royhains@ontera.net

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