New Deal for Northern Ontario

Why a Port Authority

The New Deal for Northern Ontario calls for transferring ownership of the railroad and other assets of ONTC to a new ports authority to be operated under the Canada Marine Act.

This model contemplates a territory framed by the Ports Authority assets from the Ring of Fire south to Nakina, south-east to North Bay (after completion of the Pagwa rail sub from Nakina to Hearst) and north to Moosonee. The Ports Authority will operate the existing ports of Moosonee and Webequie, and construct the new Port of Koper Lake and the connecting railway from the Port of Koper Lake to Exton.

Infrastructure assets of this nature are best suited to some form of public ownership. Throughout Canada’s history, the public sector has always played a key role in delivering significant, long term economic development in large, sparsely populated regions of the country. This axiom applies directly to the region now served by ONTC and to the Ring of Fire.

Proponents of the New Deal therefore sought to identify the optimal public ownership structure for ONTC going forward. This led to the Canada Marine Act. The Canada Marine Act model ensures that the social, economic and environmental benefits of the Ring of Fire are shared with the people in this territory as they are realized over time.

A ports authority is also the best structure to ensure that the rights, needs and aspirations of the First Nations communities in the areas now served by ONTC and in the Ring of Fire will be fully respected. Section 3 of the Canada Marine Act says that nothing in the Act can be construed to in any way minimize “existing aboriginal or treaty rights of the aboriginal peoples of Canada.”

With this in mind, the New Deal proposes that First Nations be supported in the organization of their own Regional Economic Development Corporations (link to proposed organizational chart).

The purpose of the Canada Marine Act, as outlined in Section 4, is to:

  • Provide Canada with the marine infrastructure it needs for the effective support of national, regional and local social and economic objectives in order to promote Canada’s competitiveness;
  • Base infrastructure and services on international practices and approaches, consistent with those of Canada’s major trading partners;
  • Ensure transportation services are organized to satisfy the needs of users and are made available to them at a reasonable cost;
  • Provide for a high level of safety and environmental protection;
  • Provide a high degree of autonomy for local or regional management of the components of the system of services and facilities and be responsive to local needs and priorities;
  • Manage infrastructure and services in a commercial manner that encourages, and takes into account, input from the users and the community where the infrastructure is located; and
  • Promote the coordination and integration of marine activities with surface and air transportation.

These objectives match closely with the goals of the New Deal for Northern Ontario.

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