THUNDER BAY – Politics – The Ontario Liberal party on Tuesday May 27, 2014 announced plans for a high speed railway between London, Kitchener-Waterloo and Toronto at a price of $2-3 billion over 10 years (and you know it will be more). Never mind the short stretch of rail being built in a corridor that isn’t that slow with current transportation options, or the questionable passenger demand, or that the Ontario government owned Ontario Northland Railway (ONTC) in Northeastern Ontario has been allowed to languish and was just saved from closure. This is announced the day after Premier Wynne’s participation in the Northern Leader’s Debate in Thunder Bay.
On Sunday May 25th in Thunder Bay Premier Wynne confusingly “relaunched” the Ontario Liberal’s Ring of Fire initiatives of a government run project development corporation and $1 billion over 10 years for transportation infrastructure, saying that the $1 billion would “now” be provided to develop the mine claims north of Nakina (Greenstone) regardless of whether the federal government provided funding to the project. For weeks prior, the Ontario Liberals and Michael Gravelle, 19 year Liberal incumbent in Thunder Bay-Superior North and the Ontario Minister of Natural Resources, said the $1 billion for the Ring of Fire was not dependent on federal funding. Mr. Gravelle was on TVO Agenda just the week before the Northern Leaders’ Debate arguing the point. So the Liberals are either again disorganized in dealing with the Ring of Fire or not being forthright with the people of Northern Ontario to gain favour for the election. The $1 billion for the Ring of Fire was itself announced not long before the expected election.
Now compare the $1 billion announced for a huge mining opportunity that will generate billions of dollars of wealth and taxes, thousands of high paying jobs, potential refineries and value-added manufacturing in the region, to the $2-3 billion + cost overruns on a train system that will maybe break even to serve Toronto and its surrounding area. Then remind yourself about the over $1.1 billion wasted by cancelling the construction of natural gas plants in Southern Ontario Liberal ridings to satisfy voters. That is a huge amount of money to waste for any level of government. Keep saying “a billion dollars” until you get used to the idea of it being wasted. Then add in whatever Liberal scandal you remember off the top of your head. Why will you vote for them?
Bill Mauro, Liberal incumbent in Thunder Bay-Atikokan, was announced as Ontario Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing just before the expected election. Michael Gravelle trumpets his party’s spending in Northwestern Ontario on health care, education and roads, except these are legally mandated responsibilities of the elected government and are being performed, in most cases, to the minimum standards required.
Both Mr. Mauro and Mr. Gravelle are little able to control the Ontario Liberal party’s intense Southern Ontario focus. Andrew Foulds, new NDP candidate in Thunder Bay-Superior North, and the other big three party candidates in Northern Ontario likely think they can control their respective Southern Ontario centric party policies to better their ridings and Northern Ontario, but history of MPPs of the big three parties says otherwise. Why will you vote for them?
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