David Collenette appointed special adviser for Ontario high-speed rail [CBC News]

Province is examining a high-speed link between Windsor, London, Kitchener-Waterloo and Toronto.

David Collenette is Ontario’s new czar of high-speed rail.

The appointment comes as the Liberal government at Queen’s Park looks to spend more than $130 billion on infrastructure over the next decade to ease the burden on Ontario’s increasingly traffic-choked highways.

The Friday announcement by the province says that Collenette will draw on his experience as a top federal Liberal cabinet minister to forge a business case for a high-speed rail link joining Windsor, London, Kitchener-Waterloo and Toronto.

The Wynne Liberals used the vision of a bullet train comfortably whisking commuters though Ontario’s populous heartland during the last provincial election to bait voters at the ballot box.

It wasn’t until after the Liberals won, however, that CBC News learned the UK consultants hired to produce a pre-feasibility study on a potential high-speed rail link did a rush job so then-Liberal Transportation Minister Glen Murray could use it as political ammunition.

First Class Partnerships, a transportation consulting firm based in London, U.K., told the CBC that it had so little time to prepare its report that it had to rely on five-year-old satellite images on Google Earth, rather than explore the route in person, as is what’s normally done.

It means Collenette, who’s been tasked with scrutinizing every detail of a possible high-speed rail line, may be operating without the most accurate or up-to-date information.

Collenette comes with two decades of political experience, serving under three Liberal prime ministers including Pierre Trudeau, John Turner and Jean Chretien.

Collenette has held some high profile cabinet posts, including Defence, Veterans Affairs, Transportation and Crown corporations, where he oversaw Canada Post, Via Rail and eight other government institutions.

He retired from federal politics in 2004 when he did not seek re-election in his Toronto riding.