Saturday, March 23, 2013
ONTC Divestment: One Year On
Here we are. It has been one year since the Ontario Government announced that it would divest the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission. Since then, Ontario has a new Premier, Rick Bartolucci has resigned his cabinet post, the Northlander stopped running, a lot of people got upset and still nothing has been sold.
To date, Ontera is the only division up for sale. What was to be a speedy way to save government money has become a long and emotional series of protests, prorogations, resignations, accusations and anxieties.
This also marks one year since I planned my trip to Cochrane and my book based on this incredible series of events.
It is hard to tell what the future will hold. I think everyone expects that the divestment process will continue, but nobody knows how long it will take. If there is one positive note, it is that the government is looking for greater input from the public as they continue to sort out the mess that the ONTC divestment has become. The various groups opposed to the divestment have been able to organise into one united voice behind the New Deal for Northern Ontario. It is now up to the government to decide if it wants to save face or continue on its current path.
What I take away from this anniversary is a feeling of sympathy for all those who have watched this mess directly affect their lives. I only got to experience the ONTC as a visitor - I was not reliant on it. To thousands, the Northlander was an employer, a link to the wider world, a friend.