NDP candidate Peter Tabuns says a key reason he is seeking re-election in Toronto-Danforth is to ensure that Toronto gets a better deal from the province when it comes to funding.
Tabuns, who has served in the Ontario legislature since 2006, said Toronto continuously struggles with issues like transit infrastructure because the city doesn’t get enough support from the provincial and federal governments.
“I think that (Toronto) is an afterthought, to tell you the truth,” Tabuns said. “Here in Toronto we’re critically dependent on a good transit system and we don’t have any regular mechanism for the city of Toronto to get the transit funding it needs.”
He pointed to the Ontario NDP’s pledge to subsidize the operating costs of the TTC and said if re-elected he would work to make the city a bigger priority on the province’s agenda.
The former Toronto city councillor kicks off his campaign shortly after the death of friend and colleague, Toronto-Danforth MP Jack Layton. Tabuns said he believes the momentum that Layton created over the past several months will boost the Ontario NDP’s profile.
“I would say there’s still quite a lot of good feeling left over from that federal election,” Tabuns said. “The great goodwill and hope that Jack generated I think has in a lot of people’s minds been transferred to the Ontario NDP.”
Tabuns said affordability, the economy and health care continue to be big issues, but in the last week he has also heard a lot from residents about Ward 2 councillor Doug Ford’s proposal to privatize development of the Port Lands.
He expressed strong opposition to the proposal, saying it was shortsighted and would affect the neighbourhood negatively.
“The Ford proposal (would) essentially abandon the last five years of consultation and planning,” Tabuns said. “It would be environmentally very hard to defend, but also hugely a problem for all the business areas in this riding.”
Tabuns said a multi-storey mall as proposed by Councillor Ford would hurt vibrant business areas in his riding such as Greektown, Pape Village and Leslieville.
“It would be taking away the customers that would otherwise be coming to our business strips,” Tabuns said.
In terms of larger provincial issues, the former executive director of Greenpeace Canada and NDP environment critic defended the Ontario NDP’s environmental platform, which was criticized by traditional allies such as Environmental Defence executive director Rick Smith for a proposal to cut four percentage points from the provincial portion of the HST on gas.
Tabuns said the party’s pledges to fund public transit, expand renewable energy and halt nuclear energy demonstrates their commitment to environmental sustainability.
“I think we’ve got a really strong environmental platform,” he said.
“I strongly suggest people go to our website and read it.”
He went on to criticize Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak as a “Liberal in a hurry” and slammed Liberal leader Dalton McGuinty for not dealing with transit and urban sprawl issues in his time as premier.
“I don’t think you can believe McGuinty when he makes his promises,” Tabuns said.