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An arbitrator has ruled that the private operator of Ontarios Highway 407 has the right to hike tolls whenever it wants, without government approval.

The Ontario government is expected to appeal the ruling and to try to renegotiate that part of the 99 year lease during a five year review of the arrangement.

Public outcry and government pressure has done nothing to stop tolls on the highway from increasing 200 per cent in the last five years.

The liberal government took the highway to court over the Feb. 1, 2004 increase. But the arbitrator ruled the private operator was not required to submit a change request, nor obtain any other government approval for raising tolls.

If the arbitrators interpretation of the deal signed by the former conservative government stands, the company will be free to siphon public money into its pocket for the remaining 94 years.