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PM pledges $2B for Ontario public transit

RICHMOND HILL — Prime Minister Paul Martin says it’s time for Stephen Harper and his Conservatives to put partisan politics aside and pass the federal budget bill.

The comments came as Martin announced two deals with Ontario to give the province more than $2 billion for public transit over five years.

But he said the money, part of his “new deal” for cities, can’t flow until the budget passes in Parliament.

Martin said there’s too much at stake for the government to tolerate partisan games any longer.

NDP Leader Jack Layton also wants the budget passed.

He says the agreement shows how effective a minority government can be.

But Layton is critical of Martin for reaching a deal with the Tories to delay passage of the same-sex marriage bill.

The mayors of Toronto and Mississauga applauded Martin for giving communities the support they say is badly needed to repair public transit and buy new buses.

The federal government is giving municipalities a share of 1.5 cents per litre of the gasoline tax, which will grow to five cents per litre by 2009-10.

The Association of Municipalities of Ontario says the federal money will be divided on a fair and equitable basis for towns and cities.

The agreement requires municipalities to spend the funding on “environmentally sustainable” projects, such as improving public transit and sewage systems.