New Mayor. Better Provincial Relations.
Today Olivia outlined priority areas she would work on with the next premier, whomever he or she is. These are restoring vital operating support for the TTC, and provincial help with TCHC’s growing backlog of repairs.
“Our city is the heart of Ontario. So for Ontario to work, our city has to work,” said Olivia. “We need a mayor who will advocate for our city, and work effectively with the provincial government.
“We don’t have a mayor who can do that now. Rob Ford mostly just loves being mayor. So he’s only been doing what’s right for Rob Ford. That’s got to stop, because we need to get back to business.”
Olivia is the only candidate making improving existing TTC service a priority. She would improve bus service now, by boosting rush-hour service right away. Her long-term priority includes returning the TTC to a state of good repair, and implementing urgent, common-sense ways to increase capacity like new subway signals on the Bloor-Danforth line.
“Every day, hundreds of thousands of commuters from the 905 use the TTC to get to work,” she said. “In that way, the TTC is regional transit just like the GO and deserves operating support.”
The province used to deliver funding to both the TTC and social housing in the city, but these were downloaded by the province in 1998. Olivia said this has to change: “No matter which party forms the next provincial government, they’re going to have to put Toronto near the top of their agenda.”
Olivia has a long record of working with people from across the spectrum. At city hall, she served as Mel Lastman’s child and youth advocate and on his budget committee. As an MP, she worked closely with Jason Kenney on several files, and was highly regarded on all sides of the House.
Olivia spoke at the Canadian Club, the same venue where a week before, John Tory unveiled a new transit priority nothing like his old priority. Tory had said his “top priority” was a subway relief line and committed to work on it “immediately.” His new priority is not a relief line.
“I want to talk about what this flip-flop says about Mr. Tory,” said Olivia. “Changing your mind once in a while can be a sign of good leadership. Changing your mind all the time is a sign of poor judgment.”
She said the reason Tory abandoned his old priority—despite months of championing it, and attacking Olivia for correctly saying it would take time to build—was his poor judgment on the kind of transit to deliver to Scarborough. He wants to spend $1 billion more, to build transit four years later than above-ground rail with four fewer stops.
“Mr. Tory committed to the subway relief line. And then he looked at the numbers and realized our city can’t afford both his gold-plated Scarborough subway and his proposed relief line,” she said. “All because he didn’t think it through.”
She noted he’s still not thinking it through, because he proposes running underground rail to Scarborough directly underneath his new priority. “We’ve had enough poor judgment at city hall,” she said. “Mr. Tory is not the change we need.”