Money will stay in Hamilton
Before a cheering packed PC rally at Carmen’s Banquet Centre last week, Ontario PC leader Doug Ford lit the fuse on what is certain to be the defining issue in the upcoming provincial and municipal elections—LRT. Ford took the issue beyond the stance taken by his predecessor Patrick Brown, saying if Hamilton Council rejected LRT, he would nonetheless allow the $1 Billion stay in Hamilton and further, that he would allow the money to be used for non-transit infrastructure like roads.
In a CHML interview, and reiterated at the rally Ford declared, “I believe in letting the people decide. The Liberals said to the people of Hamilton, You take this, (LRT) or we’ll take all the funding away… We’re not going to do that. If people want the LRT well give it to them, if they don’t want it were still going to keep the money for infrastructure in Hamilton. I’m going to stand behind the people of Hamilton,–were going to do what the people of Hamilton want to do.”
Ford urged the crowd to hold Hamilton municipal and provincial candidates accountable for their stand on LRT. Referring to Flamborough-Glanbrook PC candidate Donna Skelly, a consistent foe of LRT, Ford said “I rely on people like Donna Skelly, who know what the people want.”
Depending on the outcome of the provincial election the statement by Ford puts the LRT issue firmly back in the hands of Hamilton City Council who voted last April to allow the project to proceed, subject to a vote on the final financial cost of the project which was slated to be presented sometime after the October municipal election. Councillors Tom Jackson, Terry Whitehead and Chad Collins all reversed long-time stands against LRT in the vote in April Last year after intense lobbying and warnings by government member Ted McMeekin that rejecting LRT would place Hamilton back to the drawing board on transit funding from the province. Councillors apparently feared that they would be seen to have turned down a Billion dollar gift. Ford’s comments have created a stark choice for voters in both upcoming elections.