Transcript: Northern Needs: Transportation Infrastructure | Oct 10, 2019

Steve sits in the studio. He's slim, clean-shaven, in his fifties, with short curly brown hair. He's wearing a gray suit, blue shirt, and gray plaid tie.

A caption on screen reads "Northern needs: Transportation infrastructure. @spaikin, @theagenda."

Steve says ONTARIO IS A HUGE
PROVINCE, AND MOST OF IT IS
NORTH OF THE FRENCH RIVER.
FOR TRANSPORTATION
INFRASTRUCTURE, THAT MEANS LONG
DISTANCES AND COMPLEX NEEDS.
FOR FEDERAL PARTIES IN THIS
ELECTION, DOES IT MAKE FOR
DEFINING PLATFORM IDEAS?
LET'S FIND OUT FROM:
CHARLES CIRTWILL, PRESIDENT AND
CEO OF THE NORTHERN POLICY
INSTITUTE, WHO JOINS US FROM OUR
STUDIO AT CONFEDERATION COLLEGE
IN THUNDER BAY.

Charles is in his late forties, clean-shaven, with short, receding gray hair. He's wearing a gray plaid suit and a burgundy sweater.

Steve continues CHARLES, IT'S ALWAYS GOOD TO
HAVE YOU ON TVO.
HOW ARE YOU DOING TONIGHT?

Charles says NOT TOO BAD.
THANKS FOR HAVING ME.

Steve says NOT AT ALL.
I WANT TO JUST PUT A COUPLE OF
FIGURES ON THE TABLE HERE WHICH
WILL SHOCK SOME PEOPLE, I
SUSPECT, WHO DON'T KNOW.
NORTHERN ONTARIO ACTUALLY MAKES
UP 88 percent OF THE PROVINCE'S LAND
MASS, BUT IT IS HOME TO ONLY 5 percent
OF ONTARIO'S POPULATION.
SO THAT'S BASICALLY A LITTLE
LESS THAN 800,000 PEOPLE SPREAD
OVER 800,000 SQUARE KILOMETRES.
WHAT KIND OF CHALLENGES DOES
THAT POSE WHEN YOU'RE TRYING TO
DESIGN TRANSPORTATION
INFRASTRUCTURE?

The caption changes to "Charles Cirtwill. Northern Policy Institute."
Then, it changes again to "The Great Vast North."

Charles says SO WHEN YOU LOOK AT THAT
DISTRIBUTION, YOU'RE TALKING
ABOUT MASS TRANSIT ISSUES,
YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT WHETHER
YOU'VE GOT ROAD INFRASTRUCTURE,
YOU KNOW, IF YOU LOOK IN
NORTHWESTERN ONTARIO, FOR
EXAMPLE, WE'VE GOT A LOT OF
ROADS THAT HEAD SORT OF NORTH
AND IN THE MIDDLE OF THE BUSH
AND DON'T CONNECT TO EACH OTHER.

Steve says AND THEREFORE...

The caption changes to "Charles Cirtwill, @charlescirtwill."

Charles says SO IT ENDS UP WITH A
CHALLENGE.
SO YOU'VE GOT AN EXERCISE WHERE
BASICALLY YOUR ONLY WAY OUT IS
TO TURN AROUND AND COME BACK.
SO IF A TREE FALLS ON A POWER
LINE, THAT'S IT, YOU'RE DONE.
YOU KNOW, YOU TAKE A LOOK AT THE
CHALLENGES WE HAD AROUND A
COMMUNITY THREE WEEKS AGO, THEY
LOST A PUMP IN THEIR WATER
SYSTEM, TOOK ALMOST THREE MONTHS
TO GET A NEW ONE, BECAUSE SIMPLY
PUT, THERE IS NO WAY TO GET
THERE FROM HERE.

Steve says I MEAN, I THINK MOST
OF US REMEMBER WELL WHAT
HAPPENED WHEN THE BRIDGE WENT
OUT OVER THE NIPIGON RIVER OF
NORTH OF THUNDER BAY.
FILL IN THE BLANKS.
WHAT DID THAT MEAN FOR PEOPLE
LIVING IN THE AREA?

Charles says NOT JUST FOR PEOPLE IN THE
AREA, THAT'S LITERALLY THE ONLY
POINT AT WHICH THE COUNTRY CAN
BE BROKEN IN HALF.
ONCE THAT BRIDGE WAS OUT, THERE
WAS NO WAY FOR ROAD
TRANSPORTATION TO GET THROUGH,
SO YOU HAD ISSUES AROUND
JUST-IN-TIME DELIVERY TO
CANADIAN TIRES, TO RESTAURANTS,
TO HOTELS, AND NOT JUST IN THE
LOCAL JURISDICTIONS, YOU ALSO
HAD IMPACTS IN WINNIPEG AND YOU
HAD IMPACTS ON YOUR END, BECAUSE
OF COURSE TRUCKS HAVE TO GO BACK
AND FORTH ACROSS THAT ONE
BRIDGE.
NOW, THE GOOD NEWS IS THERE'S
FOUR LANES THERE NOW INSTEAD OF
TWO.
SO IF WE BREAK ONE, WE'LL STILL
HAVE TWO LANES LEFT TO MAKE
THINGS WORK.

Steve says GOTCHA.
I WANT OUR DIRECTOR SHELDON
OSMOND AND HIS WONDERFUL
TECHNICAL TEAM IN THERE BRING UP
THE FOLLOWING MAP, SHOWING THE
HIGHWAY EXPANSION PRIORITIES IN
THE NORTH, AND I'LL READ THIS IN
SOME DETAIL FOR THOSE WHO CAN'T
SEE THE MAP BUT ARE LISTENING ON PODCAST.

A map of Ontario appears on screen under the title "Highway expansion priorities in the North."

It shows three highways. In blue, Highway 17 from Kenora to Thunder Bay. In orange, Highway 11 from Thunder Bay to Barrie. And in pink, Highway 69 from Sudbury to Parry Sound.

Steve continues HERE ARE SORT OF THE FOUR AREAS
THAT YOU'VE IDENTIFIED AS
TRANSPORTATION PRIORITIES FOR
THE NORTH: TWINNING HIGHWAY 69
BETWEEN PARRY SOUND AND SUDBURY.
TWINNING HIGHWAY 17 BETWEEN
KENORA AND THE MANITOBA BORDER.
AND PILOTING A SO-CALLED
TWO-PLUS-ONE CONFIGURATION FOR
HIGHWAY 11, THAT'S BARRIE TO
THUNDER BAY, PLUS ALL SEASON
ROADS FOR FIRST NATIONS.
THOSE ARE THE FOUR THINGS THAT
YOU'VE GOT ON YOUR HIT LIST.
HOW COME THOSE FOUR?

The caption changes to "Connect with us: Twitter: @theagenda; Facebook, agendaconnect@tvo.org, Instagram."

Charles says SO A COUPLE OF THINGS.
WHEN YOU TAKE A LOOK AT, FOR
EXAMPLE, THE CONNECTION BETWEEN
KENORA AND MANITOBA AND BETWEEN
SUDBURY AND SOUTHERN ONTARIO,
THAT REALLY IS ABOUT ECONOMIC
ACCESSIBILITY.
THAT'S ABOUT THE CONNECTIONS
BETWEEN PEOPLE WHO HAVE MONEY,
JOBS, EDUCATION, HEALTH CARE,
AND THE ABILITY TO GET THERE.
SO THERE'S SOMETHING CALLED A
GRAVITY MODEL THAT LOOKS AT THE
ABILITY TO MOVE BETWEEN TWO
COMMUNITIES OF CERTAIN SIZES AND
SO WITH RIGHT NOW, BETWEEN
KENORA AND SAY THE CITY OF
WINNIPEG, IT'S LITERALLY A
TWO-LANE ROAD, A WINDING
TWO-LANE ROAD, THAT GOES FOR
ABOUT 300 KILOMETRES.
YOU TURN THAT INTO A TWINNED
HIGHWAY THAT'S SAFER,
ACCESSIBLE, HIGHER SPEED, EASY
TO MOVE TRANSPORTS AND GOODS ON,
AND YOU END UP WITH A MUCH
BETTER, MUCH RICHER ECONOMIC
CONNECTION BETWEEN WINNIPEG AND
THAT REGION.
WHAT WE DID HERE IN NORTHERN
ONTARIO IS WE SET ASIDE THAT
MONEY... OH, MY... THREE FEDERAL
GOVERNMENTS AGO, THREE FEDERAL
GOVERNMENTS AND THREE PROVINCIAL
GOVERNMENTS AGO, AND THEN WE
DECIDED ABOUT A DECADE AGO THAT
MAYBE IT WOULD BE MORE
INTERESTING TO TWIN BETWEEN...
OR SOME SECTIONS OF IT BETWEEN
THUNDER BAY AND A COMMUNITY
CALLED NIPAGON.
IT HAD POSITIVE IMPACTS OR BOTH
AREAS, BUT IN TERMS OF OVERALL
VALUE, WHETHER CONNECTING TO
WINNIPEG IN THE WEST OR BARRIE
AND TORONTO TO THE SOUTH, REALLY
HAS A HUGE IMPACT FOR THE REGION
AND WOULD BE MUCH MORE RETURN ON
AN INVESTMENT THAN ONTARIO AND
FEDERAL TAXPAYERS WOULD HAVE
RECEIVED UP TILL NOW.

The caption changes to "Party priorities."

Steve says TO THAT END,
CHARLES, WHAT I'D LIKE TO DO NOW
IS SORT OF GO THROUGH THE FOUR
MAJOR PARTY PLATFORMS AND SEE
WHAT THEY HAVE ON OFFER AND THEN
JUST GET YOUR BASIC SENSE ABOUT
WHETHER THIS IS SORT OF A PLUS
OR A MINUS FOR NORTHERN ONTARIO.
LET'S START, OF COURSE, WITH THE
LIBERAL PARTY.
THEY WERE THE GOVERNMENT IN THE
LAST HOUSE OF COMMONS.
THE INFRASTRUCTURE LIST LOOKS LIKE THIS.
THEY HAVE SUGGESTED OF THE MORE
THAN 2200 PROJECTS THAT THE
LIBERALS SAY WERE APPROVED IN
ONTARIO OVER THE LAST FOUR
YEARS, AMONG THEM WERE...

A slate appears on screen, with the title "Liberal Party Record. Transportation Infrastructure Investments."

Steve reads data from the slate and says 61 ROAD AND HIGHWAY PROJECTS.
A COUPLE INCLUDED 120 MILLION DOLLARS
FOR THE HIGHWAY 69 EXPANSION IN
PARRY SOUND.
37 MILLION DOLLARS FOR THE EXPANSION OF
HIGHWAY 11 AND 17 IN DORION.
YOU PUT THOSE ON YOUR PRIORITY
LIST.
THE LIBERALS SAY THE FUNDING HAS
BEEN ALLOCATED.
IF IT'S WHAT YOU WANT AND THE
MONEY'S THERE, WHERE ARE THINGS
AT RIGHT NOW?

Charles says SO IN THE PARRY SOUND SIDE OF THINGS, THAT CONSTRUCTION HAS
BEEN GOING ON NOW FOR ALMOST 8
OR 9 YEARS, EVER SO SLOWLY.
YOU CAN'T BUILD THE ENTIRE
CONNECTION IN A DAY, AND YOU'RE
RIGHT, THE LIBERALS' POSITION IS
THAT THEY'RE HAPPY WITH THE
PRIORITIES THEY'VE HAD OVER THE
LAST FOUR AND THEY WANT TO
CONTINUE TO MOVE FORWARD WITH
THEM, AND FROM THE PERSPECTIVE
OF MARGINAL INVESTMENTS,
INCREMENTAL IMPROVEMENTS, I
THINK THAT MAKES A LOT OF SENSE.
I DON'T HAVE THE SENSE THAT
EITHER THE TORIES, THE GREENS,
OR THE NDP WOULD FUNDAMENTALLY
ABANDON THOSE ROAD
CONSTRUCTIONS.
MY SENSE IS THAT THE OTHER
PARTIES WANT TO ADD ON TO THAT,
AND I SUSPECT YOU'RE GOING TO
TELL US HOW IN THE NEXT FEW
MINUTES.

Steve says I AM GOING TO DO THAT.
BEFORE WE GET THERE, JUST FOR
THE CONSTITUTIONAL WONKS AMONG
US, I THOUGHT ROADS, BRIDGES...
I THOUGHT ALL THAT STUFF WAS
PROVINCIAL RESPONSIBILITY,
ACCORDING TO OUR CONSTITUTION.
SO WHY IS THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT
PUTTING MONEY INTO THAT AT ALL ANYWAY?

Charles says SO THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT
SPENDS MONEY ACROSS THE BOARD IN
JURISDICTIONS THAT BELONG TO
MUNICIPALITIES AND PROVINCES
HAVE BEEN QUITE HAPPY TO DO IT
FOR JUST ABOUT AS LONG AS THE
COUNTRY HAS EXISTED.
THAT BEING SAID, WHEN YOU CALL
SOMETHING THE TRANS-CANADA
HIGHWAY, YOU HAVE A CERTAIN
OBLIGATION TO PUT THE MONEY
FORWARD TO PAY FOR IT.
THAT'S KIND OF WHAT HAPPENS.
YOU HAVE INFRASTRUCTURE
PARTNERSHIPS BETWEEN THE
PROVINCES AND THE FEDS,
PARTICULARLY ON TRANS-CANADA
HIGHWAYS, HIGHWAY 11, HIGHWAY
17, HIGHWAY 400 OUT OF TORONTO,
THOSE TYPES OF THINGS.

Steve says GOTCHA.
WE WOULD LOVE TO HAVE BEEN ABLE
TO SAY MORE ABOUT THE
CONSERVATIVES.
WE DID REACH OUT TO THEM
NUMEROUS TIMES TO TRY TO GET
WHAT THEIR PRIORITIES FOR
NORTHERN ONTARIO WERE.
WE NEVER GOT A RESPONSE FROM
THEM.
BUT WE PLUCKED THIS OFF THE
WEBSITE, AND HERE'S WHAT THEY
SAY.

A slate appears on screen, with the title "The Conservatives' Transportation priorities."

Steve reads data from the slate and says
THEY PLEDGE TO REDUCE COMMUTE TIMES.
THEY PLEDGE TO HELP FUND THE
ONTARIO LINE AND THE YONGE
SUBWAY EXTENSION PROJECTS.
AND THEY WANT TO BRING BACK
STEPHEN HARPER'S GREEN PUBLIC
TRANSIT TAX CREDIT SO THAT IF
YOU SPEND MONEY TAKING PUBLIC
TRANSIT, YOU'LL GET A TAX BREAK
ON THAT.
HOW MUCH OF A DIFFERENCE DO YOU
THINK ANY OF THAT WOULD MAKE TO
NORTHERN ONTARIO?

Charles says FRANKLY, NOT MUCH AT ALL.
WE ALREADY KNOW, FOR EXAMPLE,
THAT THAT GREEN TRANSIT TAX
CREDIT, THE EVIDENCE, WHEN WE
HAD IT THE FIRST TIME AROUND,
WAS THAT IT HAD VERY LITTLE
IMPACT ON RIDERSHIP.
SO IN TERMS OF THOSE
TRANSPORTATION COMMITMENTS FROM
THE TORIES, I'M NOT PARTICULARLY
IMPRESSED BY ANY OF THEM.
I THINK THE BIGGEST ISSUE OR THE
BIGGEST ITEM ON THE TORIES', YOU
KNOW, PARTIALLY ANNOUNCED
PLATFORM SO FAR IS THIS
TRANSNATIONAL ENERGY CORRIDOR
THAT THEY'RE TALKING ABOUT.
THE CHALLENGE, OF COURSE, THERE
IS IT'S A TRANSFORMATIVE
INVESTMENT, YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT
HUNDREDS OF BILLIONS OF DOLLARS,
YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT RIGHT
THROUGH ESSENTIALLY THE FAR
NORTH, SO THAT WOULD HAVE A HUGE
IMPACT TO NORTHERN ONTARIO.
ABOUT YOU THEY'RE CALLING IT AN
ENERGY CORRIDOR, WHICH SUGGESTS
THAT THE TRANSPORTATION NEEDS OF
THE LOCAL COMMUNITIES WOULD BE
ESSENTIALLY IGNORED.

Steve says OKAY, YES, THEY ARE
CALLING IT AN ENERGY CORRIDOR,
AND THEREFORE HOW HAS THE NEWS
OF THAT ANNOUNCEMENT BEEN
RECEIVED IN THE REGION?

Charles says WELL, I THINK THERE'S A LOT
OF SKEPTICISM: ONE, IT'S A
MASSIVE PROJECT.
WE'RE TALKING ABOUT BASICALLY
THE TRANSCONTINENTAL RAILROAD OF
THE 21ST CENTURY.
SO A LOT OF PEOPLE ARE LIKE,
WOW, 100 BILLION DOLLARS, YOU'RE
TALKING ABOUT A HUNDRED AND
SOME-ODD INDIVIDUAL FIRST
NATIONS COMMUNITIES, YOU'RE
TALKING ABOUT FIVE PROVINCES, A
FEDERAL GOVERNMENT PROBABLY AT
LEAST THREE TERMS, FOUR TERMS.
CAN YOU REALLY SUSTAIN THAT
LEVEL OF POLITICAL COMMITMENT?
AND I THINK ALL OF THOSE ARE
JUSTIFIABLE QUESTIONS BUT, YOU
KNOW, WE'RE TALKING ABOUT CANADA
2.1 ON THAT FRONT, AND I THINK
THAT WE'RE PROBABLY AN ELECTION
OR TWO AWAY FROM HAVING IT
SERIOUSLY DISCUSSED, BUT AT
LEAST THE TORIES ARE DISCUSSING
IT THIS TIME AROUND.

Steve says ANDREW SCHEER HAS
ALSO SAID HE WOULD SCRAP THE
LIBERALS' 35 BILLION DOLLAR CANADA
INFRASTRUCTURE BANK.
ARE THERE OTHER VIABLE FUNDING
ALTERNATIVES THEN FOR BIG
INFRASTRUCTURE PROJECTS IF THAT
IN FACT BITES THE DUST IN A
SCHEER GOVERNMENT?

Charles says YEAH, I THINK THAT THAT'S ONE OF THE THINGS THAT MAKES A
LITTLE BIT OF SENSE.
YOU TAKE A LOOK AT WHAT THE
INFRASTRUCTURE BANK HAS BEEN
ABLE TO ACCOMPLISH SINCE IT WAS
SET UP AND THE ANSWER IS REALLY
NOT ALL THAT MUCH, WHICH ISN'T
SURPRISING GIVEN THE LOW COSTS
OF MONEY RIGHT NOW.
FRANKLY A LOT OF THE
INFRASTRUCTURE PROJECTS THAT
MIGHT OTHERWISE HAVE BEEN PICKED
UP BY THE INFRASTRUCTURE BANK
ARE BEING PICKED UP BY PRIVATE
LENDERS BECAUSE MONEY IS SO
CHEAP.
SO YOU TAKE A LOOK AT THE
POSSIBILITY OF P-3 PARTNERSHIPS,
THOSE TYPE OF THINGS, 15, 20
YEARS AGO, THOSE WOULD HAVE BEEN
A HUGE ISSUE.
WE WOULD HAVE HEARD A LOT ABOUT
THAT POTENTIAL BECAUSE OF COURSE
WITH A P-3 PARTNERSHIP, YOU CAN
TAKE ADVANTAGE FROM THE PRIVATE
SECTOR OF PUTTING THE MONEY UP
FRONT AND YOU GET THE BENEFITS
OF A LOWER GOVERNMENT BORROWING
RATE, IT'S JUST NOT THE CASE
ANYMORE.
SO FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF MAJOR
INFRASTRUCTURE PROJECTS, YOU
KNOW, PRIVATE SECTOR CAPITAL IS
JUST AS CHEAP AS GOVERNMENT
CAPITAL, AND SO THEY DON'T NEED
THE INFRASTRUCTURE BANK ANYMORE.

Steve says LET'S GO ON AND TALK
ABOUT THE NDP, THE THIRD MAJOR
PARTY IN THE HOUSE OF COMMONS,
AND HERE IS WHAT THE NDP HAS ON OFFER.
THEY ARE OUTLINING THEIR
TRANSPORTATION PRIORITIES THUS...

A slate appears on screen, with the title "NDP's Transportation priorities for the North."

Steve reads data from the slate and says
AFFORDABLE TRANSIT SERVICES FOR
RURAL AREAS.
RAIL INVESTMENTS, INCLUDING
RESTARTING THE ONTARIO
NORTHLANDER TRAIN AND BRINGING
BACK THE ALGOMA PASSENGER TRAIN
SERVICE BETWEEN THE SOO AND
HEARST AND CREATING A FUND TO
IMPROVEMENT INVESTMENTS AND FAST
TRACK ROADS.
BRINGING BACK THE ONTARIO
NORTHLANDER... EXCUSE ME.
RESTARTING THE NORTHLANDER AND
BRINGING BACK THE ALGOMA
PASSENGER TRAIN SERVICE.
THAT WOULD BE VERY EXPENSIVE AND
I WONDER WHETHER PEOPLE IN THE
NORTH THINK THAT'S POSSIBLE TO DO.

The caption changes to "Watch us anytime: tvo.org, Twitter: @theagenda, Facebook Live, YouTube."

Charles says IT WAS ONE OF THE PROMISES OF THE TORY GOVERNMENT WHEN THEY
WERE RUNNING FOR ELECTION HERE
PROVINCIALLY, SO IF THE NDP GET
ELECTED FEDERALLY, I GUESS WE'LL
HAVE A FEDERAL GOVERNMENT AND A
PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT BOTH ON
SIDE WITH THE REINTRODUCTION OF
THE NORTHLANDER.
CERTAINLY FROM THE PERSPECTIVE
OF WHEN WE WERE TALKING ABOUT
TAKING IT OUT, THERE WAS A LOT
OF OPPOSITION TO THAT IN THE
NORTH, A LOT OF PEOPLE USING IT,
A VERY RELIABLE SERVICE.
THE CHALLENGE, OF COURSE, IS THE
NUMBERS NEVER WERE GOING TO BE
TO A LEVEL THAT IT WAS GOING TO
BE ABLE TO FUND ITSELF.
BUT THE SIMPLE FACT IS, IF YOU
LOOK AT EXPERIENCE IN MASS
TRANSIT SYSTEMS, WHETHER YOU'RE
TALKING ABOUT IN TORONTO OR
OTHER MAJOR CITIES, IF MEMORY
SERVES, ONLY ONE MADE A PROFIT,
THAT WAS IN SEATTLE.
THE REST OPERATED AT A LOSS.
SO THEY REQUIRED SUBSIDIARIES.
IT'S A POLITICAL DECISION, DO
YOU WANT THE RAIL OR DO YOU NOT
WANT THE RAIL.
THE SIMPLE FACT IS IF YOU WANT
MASS TRANSIT IN A REGION, AS YOU
DESCRIBE, WHICH IS SO HUGE AND
SO SPARSELY POPULATED, IT'S
GOING TO HAVE TO BE SUBSIDIZED.
YOU EITHER SUBSIDIZE RAIL AT
THIS LEVEL OR SMALLER BUSES AT
THE LEVEL NEXT TO THAT, OR YOU
DO WHAT WE'RE DOING NOW AND YOU
HAVE SORT OF INDIVIDUAL HEALTH
GRANTS WHICH ALLOW PEOPLE,
THEORETICALLY ANYWAY, TO ACCESS
HEALTH CARE BY USING THEIR
PRIVATE VEHICLES.

Steve says LET'S PUT THE GREEN
PLATFORM UP NOW.
HERE ARE THE TRANSPORTATION
POLICY PRIORITIES FOR THE GREENS
IN THE NORTH...

A slate appears on screen, with the title "The Greens' Transportation priorities for the North."

Steve reads data from the slate and says
EXPANDING RURAL
TRANSPORTATION LINKS VIA RAIL.
LIGHT RAIL AND ELECTRIC BUS
CONNECTIONS.
A NATIONAL TRANSPORTATION
STRATEGY WITH THE GOAL OF ZERO
CARBON FOR PUBLIC GROUND
TRANSPORTATION EVERYWHERE IN
CANADA BY THE YEAR 2040.
WHAT DO YOU MAKE OF THAT, CHARLES?

Charles says SO I THINK THAT THERE WILL BE SOME PEOPLE IN THUNDER BAY WHO
WILL BE MORE THAN HAPPY ABOUT
HAVING BOMBARDIER BUILD ALL
THOSE ELECTRIC BUSES FOR THEM.
I THINK THAT'S THE CHALLENGE
THERE IS, AGAIN, IF WE'RE
TALKING ABOUT REDESIGNING OUR
TRANSPORTATION GRID AND MASS
TRANSIT, YOU'VE GOT TO DECIDE
ABOUT THE LEVEL.
YOU KNOW, MY CHALLENGE WHEN I
HEAR THE FEDERAL PARTIES TALKING
ABOUT RURAL ISSUES AND RURAL
TRANSPORTATION IS, I THINK WHEN
THEY'RE PICTURING RURAL, THEY'RE
THINKING ABOUT THE COMMUNITIES
JUST OUTSIDE OF THE GTA, THEY'RE
THINKING ABOUT COMMUNITIES THAT
ARE IN COMMUTING DISTANCE OF
WINNIPEG OR EDMONTON OR CALGARY
OR VANCOUVER, AND FRANKLY,
THAT'S NOT THE RURAL REALITY IN
NORTHERN ONTARIO.
WE'RE TALKING ABOUT, YOU KNOW,
BASICALLY FROM KENORA TO THUNDER
BAY, IT'S THE DISTANCE FROM
OTTAWA TO TORONTO.
AND YOU'RE NOT DRIVING IT ON A
SIX- OR EIGHT-LANE HIGHWAY, IT'S
A TWO-LANE ROAD THAT LOOKS A LOT
MORE LIKE YOUR LOCAL STREET THAN
ANY HIGHWAY ANYONE IN SOUTHERN
ONTARIO IS FAMILIAR WITH.
WHEN YOU TALK ABOUT MASS TRANSIT
HERE, IT'S NOT AS SIMPLE AS
THOSE WORDS IN A PLATFORM MAKES
IT SOUND.

Steve says WE HAVE A MAP.
IF YOU LIVE SOUTH OF THE FRENCH
RIVER, YOU HAVE A LOT OF
TRANSPORTATION OPTIONS WHEN IT
COMES TO RAIL.
HERE'S WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE IN
NORTHERN ONTARIO, AND AGAIN I'LL
DESCRIBE THIS FOR THOSE
LISTENING ON PODCAST IN SOME
DETAIL.

A slate appears on screen, with the title "Passenger rail service."

On a map of Ontario, three railways appear marked. In blue, the Via rail. In yellow, the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission. And a dotted line for the Algoma Central Railway.

Steve reads data from the slate and says
THE BROWN DOTTED LINE IN THE
MIDDLE WAS THE ALGOMA CENTRAL
RAILWAY RUNNING FROM SAULT STE.
MARIE TO HEARST.
THAT WAS CANCELLED 4 YEARS AGO.
VIA RAIL, THE BLUE LINE, THAT
TRAVELS NORTHWEST FROM TORONTO,
SIOUX LOOKOUT BEING ONE OF THE
LAST NORTHERN STOPS. THERE IS A
TERRIBLY SHORT STRETCH OF THE
ONTARIO NORTHLAND TRANSPORTATION
COMMISSION, AND THAT'S IN THE
NORTHEAST RUNNING FROM COCHRANE
TO MOOSONEE. THIS IS IN THE FAR
NORTHERN PARTS OF OUR PROVINCE.
AS WE CAN SEE FROM THAT MAP OR
HEAR FROM MY DESCRIPTION,
CHARLES, THERE'S NOT A LOT UP
THERE.
HOW MUCH POLITICAL COMMITMENT DO
YOU THINK IS THERE FROM THE
POLITICAL LEADERS OF ANY OF THE
PARTIES TO IMPROVE ON THIS?

Charles says SO MY FRANK ANSWER IS NOT
THAT MUCH.
I DON'T EXPECT ANY OF THE
PROVINCES OR ANY OF THE PROMISES
AROUND RAIL INFRASTRUCTURE,
EXPANDING RAIL SERVICES TO
ACTUALLY TAKE FRUIT OR BEAR
FRUIT.
THE SIMPLE FACT IS THAT WE'RE
TALKING ABOUT MAJOR INVESTMENTS
FOR A SMALL POPULATION BASE.
MORALLY I THINK IT MAKES SENSE.
FROM A TOURISM PERSPECTIVE IT
MAKES SENSE.
SOCIALLY I THINK WE HAVE
OBLIGATIONS.
WE HAVE COMMUNITIES UP HERE WITH
NO WATER, TOTALLY UNRELIABLE ON
ELECTRICITY.
WE'RE SHIPPING IN DIESEL FUEL.
YOU HAVE A SITUATION WHERE BOIL
WATER ORDERS ARE IN PLACE FOR 20
AND 25 YEARS.
NOT BECAUSE OF A LACK OF
WILLINGNESS TO MAKE IT HAPPEN
BUT BECAUSE IT'S SIMPLY
RIDICULOUSLY EXPENSIVE.
IN TERMS OF KEEPING IT
OPERATIONAL, IT'S DIFFICULT FOR
THE TECHNICIAN TO GET TO THESE
COMMUNITIES.

Steve says THIS IS A BIG
QUESTION TO ASK WITH A MINUTE
AND CHANGE LEFT TO GO.
BUT THE BALANCING ACT IN
POLITICS IS TRICKY, PARTICULARLY
IN NORTHERN ONTARIO WHERE YOU
HAVE INDIGENOUS SENSITIVITIES
THAT HAVE TO BE TAKEN INTO
ACCOUNT.
HOW DO YOU BALANCE THE NEED ON
THE ONE HAND TO BUILD MORE
TRANSPORTATION, TO BUILD ROADS,
TO BUILD RAIL, WITH THE, YOU
KNOW, VERY UNDERSTANDABLE NEED
THAT INDIGENOUS PEOPLE FEEL
INASMUCH AS THEIR CONNECTION TO
THE LAND WOULD, FOR MANY,
SUGGEST NO BUILDING HERE,
PLEASE. HOW DO YOU HANDLE THAT?

The caption changes to "The road forward."

Charles says SO I THINK THE ANSWER TO THAT IS IN ONE WORD: OWNERSHIP.
I THINK TO THE EXTENT THAT WE'RE
GOING TO SEE NEW INFRASTRUCTURE
EXPANDED IN THE NORTH, WE'RE
GOING TO SEE ROADS, RAIL, WHAT
HAVE YOU, IN TERMS OF OPENING UP
THE NORTH, IT HAS TO BE IN THE
HANDS OF THE FIRST NATIONS
THEMSELVES.
NOT NECESSARILY FULL, COMPLETE
OWNERSHIP, BUT WE'RE TALKING AT
LEAST 50 PERCENT PLUS ONE.
THEY HAVE TO LEAD THE CHARGE ON
THAT THING.
IN FACT, WE SAW AN EXAMPLE OF
THAT JUST LAST NIGHT HERE IN
THUNDER BAY WHERE A COMMUNITY...
MARTEN FALLS HAD THE FIRST
PUBLIC SESSION AS PART OF THEIR
ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT FOR A
NEW PERMANENT ROAD TO THEIR
COMMUNITY, AND THEY'RE LEADING
THE PROCESS.
THE FIRST OF ITS KIND IN CANADA
WITH A FIRST NATIONS LEADING AN
ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT.
I THINK THAT'S THE WAY FORWARD.

Steve says WE HAD THE CHIEF
FROM MARTEN FALLS ON THIS
PROGRAM A COUPLE OF WEEKS AGO SO
I KNOW WHAT YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT
AND SO DO OUR VIEWERS.

Charles says THERE YOU GO.

The caption changes to "Producer: Patricia Kozicka, @TrishKozicka; Student Intern: Linda Bicho-Vachon."

Steve says I WANT TO THANK YOU,
CHARLES, FOR COMING ON TO TVO
TONIGHT AND WE LOOK FORWARD TO
SPEAKING TO YOU SOON ABOUT
ISSUES IN NORTHERN ONTARIO.
THANK SO MUCH.

Charles says ALWAYS HAPPY.

Watch: Northern Needs: Transportation Infrastructure