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article imageA look at the transit plans of each Canadian political candidate

By Georgia Williams     Oct 19, 2015 in Politics
Toronto - As Canadians head to the polls today to vote in the 42nd general election, it is as good a time as any to recap where each leader stands on Toronto’s most contentious issue, transit.
Toronto transit, or lack thereof, is a constant area of debate and tension. The only area that seems to ever be agreed upon is the need for more transit, however how to go about getting Torontonians moving has become a tedious repetitive argument that has resulted in few changes. With that being said, each party addressed Toronto’s transit stagnation during their lengthy campaigns, and much like Toronto city council there was no consensus.
Let’s start with the incumbent Prime Minister, Stephen Harper. In June, the Prime Minister announced a $2.6 billion plan to invest in Smart Track infrastructure that would merge the provincial transit with the local city transit for a one pass system that allows users to travel around southern Ontario with ease.
The plan, which is partly the brainchild of Toronto Mayor Tory and the federal conservative party, sounds great on paper, but as Mayor Tory and Prime Minister Harper have both confirmed the expansion of Smart Track is still in the exploratory phase. There is also no way to be sure that it will get the support of local city councilors.
Not to be outdone by his conservative counterpart, Justin Trudeau leader of the federal Liberal party, made his own transit promises to Canada’s largest city last month. While at a campaign stop in Richmond Hill, a suburb of Toronto, Trudeau announced a $20 billion, 10-year-plan to improve transit systems across the county. The $20 billion dollar investment would be a small portion of the $125 billion Trudeau plans to spend on infrastructure projects around the country over a 10-year-period.
“The money is to be spent across Canada, but because bigger cities have a bigger need for transit, they’ll see more of it,” Trudeau said at the press conference. “This is such a significant investment. It means there are an awful lot of projects right across the country that are going to get the green light.”
Trudeau’s nationwide transit plan will continue to fund projects like the Scarborough subway expansion that has already been approved by city councilors.
Last month at a NDP rally in Edmonton Thomas Mulcair promised that if elected he and the NDP party would allocate $1.3 billion in annual funding for 20 years, as well as $1.5 billion in annual transfers to Canada’s municipalities for four years. Mulcair’s countrywide transit plan is aimed at combating the every growing gridlock that adds hours to each commuters work week. “Gridlock has a real cost in terms of lost productivity and of course there's a personal cost as well," Mulcair told the CBC. "Every minute spent commuting is time not spent with your family and friends."
For Toronto, Mulcair plans to commit $12.9 billion to the city’s infrastructure, of which $7.7 billion would be earmarked for transit projects.
Despite not being invited to the major televised debates, Green Party leader Elizabeth May released some lofty transit plans of her own during the campaign process. May plans to invest $3 billion to $500 billion in nationwide infrastructure strategies that include transit and affordable housing.
The Green Party plans on using part of the GST to fund the infrastructure investment, and believes using as little as one percent of the GST can generate as much as $6.5 billion annually.
Tomorrow morning one of the above candidates will be newly elected as the Prime Minister of Canada, it up to us to hold whoever wins to their campaign promises. When it comes to transit in Toronto the sooner they implement their transit strategies the better.
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