Premier McGuinty didn’t have much choice.
But there are other issues as well. First, it makes no sense to publicly subsidize an uneconomic venture that has no hope of ever breaking even, particularly when there is a reasonable alternative.
That might have been an acceptable public policy choice when the Ontario government was awash in surplus, but not when the annual deficit is in the neighbourhood of $15 billion.
Demands by noisy local politicians to continue to pour precious tax dollars down this rat hole are ludicrous.
The idea that the subsidies should continue because some jobs are at stake is a luxury we can no longer afford.
Perhaps when it all shakes out there may be more jobs for bus drivers and maintenance workers than there were for train crews and service personnel.
The Ontario Northland Railway parallels Highway 11, and all of the passengers who use it could easily take a bus.
That is quite unlike the Algoma Central passenger service between Sault Ste. Marie and Hearst, the VIA Rail Budd Car service between Sudbury and White River and the Ontario Northland train between Cochrane and Moosonee.
Many of the communities on all three lines have no bus service at all and a good number are inaccessible by road.
Hundreds of tourist operations in these corridors generate employment, wealth and taxes. They simply could not function without subsidized train service.
Demands for the resignation of Minister Rick Bartolucci because of the Ontario Northland decision indicate a complete lack of understanding of our parliamentary democracy.
Mr. Bartolucci is a minister of the Crown. He must support decisions made by cabinet or fall on his sword and resign.
That might please some union goons who pander to dwindling memberships. But it would leave us with no minister and no passenger service. Not very smart.
What we really should be looking at and questioning is the amount of freight that is hauled by truck between Cochrane and Toronto, how much of it could be shipped by rail and, by doing so, decrease the wear and tear on Highway 11.
With an eroding tax base and an aging population, cuts to programs and services are fast becoming commonplace.
It can only get worse. The sooner we get a grip on our provincial finances, the less painful the cuts will be.
William E. McLeod