Hamilton East Stoney Creek MP Bob Bratina will not be a candidate for the Liberals in the next federal election expected later this year. In his letter of resignation he said, “What has brought me to this decision at this time is not only the recent decision by the federal government to intervene in the Hamilton transit situation with an LRT system that I believe in my heart is not the transit solution that Hamilton needs, and at a cost to Hamilton and Canadian taxpayers that I cannot in good conscience support; but also, the manner in which this deal came to pass.”
Unless the election should be delayed until next year, Bratina will be walking away from the MP pension which does not kick in until a member has served six years. Bratina was elected In the October 19. 2015 Federal Election.
Bratina said at the end of the day it came down to a matter of principle. “This week I found myself asking, what is one compromise too many, what mountain do we die on…to coin an old phrase. And I found that I was unable to support my colleagues on this project. I could not look Hamiltonians in the face who have trusted me over the years, and tell them that spending Billions of dollars on a transit system that provides service to such a small portion of Hamiltonians was the best use of public finds—THEIR money, after all—and try to convince them it was the best public policy decision.”
As news spread of the Bratina release which he sent out before 7AM Monday. Some Hamilton Councillors were asking whether Bratina might take another shot at the Mayor’s chair in the Fall of 2022. He told the Bay Observer, “I don’t want to be one of those politicians who says he’s not going to run and then declares two days later. I’m not ruling out considering it but I am not actively seeking it either. Let’s see what opportunity arises.”
Asked about how active a role he will play in opposition to LRT, he said, “My interest is that the issue come back into the hands of council. I am open to a poll or a referendum. The important thing is that neither the Federal Government nor the Ford government should seek to control Council’s ability to express its desire on the subject. I would encourage councillors to speak out.”
Some heads were shaking after the aggressive tone at last week’s announcement of the $3.4 Billion deal between Ottawa and Queen’s Park chaired by Infrastructure Minister Catherine McKenna. She openly declared that Hamilton was getting LRT only because it had been forced on Doug Ford as a condition for Toronto receiving federal funding for three transit projects, including the Scarborough subway. “How dare she come in here and tell Hamiltonians what’s what after Doug Ford had repeatedly said the money could be used for other forms of transit like BRT,” Bratina asked. McKenna told a reporter that if Hamilton Council asked for BRT the Federal money would be off the table. “There’ll be no deal,” she said bluntly.
It still leaves open the question of whether Doug Ford would keep his promise to allow the money to go to something other than LRT. A Bus Rapid Transit option would not require any money from the Federal government. It will be up to Hamilton Council to seek that information whenever provincial officials get here to explain the LRT deal and hopefully to answer the BRT question as well. An Abacus political poll on Federal preferences released today had the Liberals and Conservatives in a statistical tie. A poll released last week by Navigator showed fully 44 percent of respondents saying they trust Prime Minister Trudeau less now than at the start of the pandemic while just 19 percent reported trusting him more, giving the PM a pandemic progression score of minus 25. Even in Ontario, Trudeau was under water by 28 points.