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Election Notebook Ford trumpets bridge job, Horwath highlights worker policies

Don Wall
Election Notebook Ford trumpets bridge job, Horwath highlights worker policies
GREEN PARTY FACEBOOK — For the first time the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation has endorsed two Green Party candidates, Leader Mike Schreiner (centre), the candidate for the riding of Guelph, and Matt Richter (left) for Parry Sound–Muskoka.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath attempted to burnish her party’s credentials as an ally of the labour movement while Premier Doug Ford announced plans for another highway and bridge project as Ontario’s election campaign moved into its second-last weekend.

Meanwhile the Greens announced details of a Water Protection Plan that would stop the expansion of gravel quarries and the Liberals found themselves embroiled in a candidate controversy.

Election day in Ontario is June 2. Week three of the campaign was highlighted by an English-language leaders debate on May 16, the first time the Green Party was invited to an official debate.

Two days later Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner had additional reasons to celebrate, when the party picked up its first two endorsements by the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation. Schreiner was endorsed as the OSSTF choice for the riding of Guelph while Matt Richter was endorsed for Parry Sound–Muskoka.

As part of their Water Protection Plan, the Greens would implement an immediate moratorium on all new and expanded gravel mining permits, double the size of the Greenbelt to include a Bluebelt of protected waterways, and set required minimum use of recycled aggregates in infrastructure projects.

“Nothing is more important than protecting the long-term supply of our drinking water, and yet Ontario’s weak aggregate and water-taking rules continue to put private profits first,” Schreiner said.

Both Schreiner and Horwath were diagnosed with COVID-19 in the past week, which their campaign representatives said would temporarily curtail their public appearances.

Horwath, stung by a parade of recent endorsements from Ontario construction unions for Ford’s PC Party, highlighted a set of platform policies supportive of workers and unions on May 19 and released her party’s own lineup of union endorsements that included the Ontario Federation of Labour, OPSEU, United Steelworkers, United Food and Commercial Workers, CUPE Ontario, IAM and the Amalgamated Transit Union.

On average, unionized workers earn 13 per cent more than non-unionized workers, which is why the NDP will make it easier for workers to join a union, Horwath’s release stated.

“Everyday workers need to be able to afford everyday life. Together, we can lift wages up, bring costs down, and respect and protect working people,” said Horwath.

The same day, Ford was in Niagara-on-the-Lake announcing plans for a new and expanded Garden City Skyway bridge. The project includes a new multi-lane twin bridge on the Queen Elizabeth Way over the Welland Canal in addition to rehabilitation of the existing Skyway bridge including a full deck replacement.

A week earlier, Ford was in Kitchener where he announced plans to move forward on a new 18-kilometre four-lane highway between Kitchener and Guelph, including building two bridges over the Grand River.

“The Del Duca-Wynne Liberals failed to build roads, highways and bridges, leaving drivers stuck in gridlock. Andrea Horwath and the NDP are opposed to building anything,” Ford said.

The Liberal campaign was beset by statements from Brampton East candidate Jannat Garewal during a Punjabi-language interview, in which Garewal said Del Deca “definitely” plans to eventually build Highway 413 and “doesn’t have any objections to building this highway.”

Del Duca has said the Liberals will abort plans to build the 413 and will instead spend $10 billion on new schools and schools upgrading.

Garewal stated, “We will definitely build this highway, but we need to focus on education…Kids are our future, they will fulfill our workforce. So we want to invest in them at this time, we can build the highway later.”

Coming up, the parties will have a chance to debate transportation and transit policy as Transport Futures hosts a two-hour Provincial Election Transportation Debate on May 25. The event will be in-person at a Toronto venue and will also be accessible online.

So far the PCs have not committed a representative to the event. The NDP will send Jessica Bell, incumbent University-Rosedale candidate and urban affairs critic, the Liberals will be represented by Thornhill candidate Laura Mirabella, and the Greens will send Dianne Saxe, University-Rosedale candidate and the party’s deputy leader.


Follow the author on Twitter @DonWall_DCN.

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