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Hudak vows secure funding for city
if he becomes Ontario premier

By Richard Blackwell

Ontario Opposition Leader Tim Hudak has promised to make sure Toronto’s new mayor gets stable long-term funding from the province — if he becomes premier.

In a speech to the Toronto Board of Trade Friday, Mr. Hudak said that as premier, “I would ensure the city gets some long-term certainty about the provincial supports that they can both expect and receive. Instead of recording apocalyptic subway ads, Toronto’s mayor could be today planning next year’s budget with confidence that the province is going to follow through.”

There would still be tough choices on spending priorities, he said, but the province under his leadership would not make promises it could not keep.

Mr. Hudak was critical of outgoing Mayor David Miller — who used the TTC’s public announcement system last week to encourage riders to lobby for the restoration of $4-billion in postponed rapid transit funding — but he did not endorse any of the candidates running for the job. Mr. Hudak said he would vote for whoever promised to deliver value for tax dollars, keep taxes in check, provide reliable transit and make sure roads were free of potholes.

The only mayoral candidate who attended the speech was Joe Pantalone.

Mr. Hudak criticized the City of Toronto Act, passed four years ago, which allows the city to raise its own tax revenue. Residents were “sold a bill of goods” he said, because the new law was supposed to streamline decision-making, not provide “a toolbox for increasing taxes.”

After his speech, however, Mr. Hudak would not commit to repealing the act if he became premier.

He dodged most other questions about specific issues in the mayoral election campaign and he would not say if he thought the $4-billion in Transit City funding that was cut from the recent provincial budget should be restored.

He did wade into the debate over expanding the bicycle infrastructure on Toronto streets, saying that installing dedicated bike lanes on Jarvis and University, at the expense of lanes for cars, will just make traffic congestion worse. “I’m a believer in ensuring that Toronto families can get to work on time, can pick up their kids at daycare, and can get around the city,” he said.

Liberal MPP Glen Murray, a former mayor of Winnipeg, said Mr. Hudak’s Conservative Party is partly to blame for the financial problems faced by cities like Toronto. The government of former Conservative premier Mike Harris conducted an “open war with the municipalities,” Mr. Murray said. “The tax problems that the City of Toronto has came from the biggest disinvestment in public infrastructure in the history of this province under the Harris government, [along with] the downloading of social services.”