New provincial NDP candidate Paul Donofrio has a few choice words for the man he sees as Vaughan’s “sleeping giant”.
“This platform is for the people,” he told a gathering of about 50 Wednesday night at Hotel Novotel in Maple, moments after being acclaimed as the NDP candidate for Vaughan in the Oct. 6 provincial election. “That’s what Vaughan needs — not just a sleeping giant that does nothing for the people.”
He was referring to longtime Liberal MPP Greg Sorbara, who he wasted no time in slamming for what he sees as “a lack of duty” in bringing a voice for Vaughan in the Ontario legislature. By Donofrio’s count (so far not able to be independently confirmed), Sorbara spoke on only seven of 309 days during the last sitting at Queen’s Park.
“This is clearly a lack of duty for the residents of Vaughan,” he said. “It’s no wonder he’s been called a visitor.”
Donofrio, a former city fleet coordinator who also ran unsuccessfully for mayor in 2010, will face Sorbara and Progressive Conservative candidate Tony Genco in the provincial election. If his opening night salvo is an indication, it is Sorbara he is focusing his attention on.
He said he frequently hears residents saying the local MPP has not been visible.
“We didn’t really hear much of Greg until the scandal broke and they had to raid his office,” he said in reference to a 2005 RCMP raid on the Sorbara Group offices as part of a probe into Royal Group Technologies. “Any doors I’ve knocked on have asked ‘Where’s Greg? We haven’t seen him.’”
Sorbara stepped down from his position as finance minister in 2005 while the probe was ongoing. He was cleared in 2006.
In response to Donofrio’s current verbal challenge, Sorbara, who has been MPP since 2001, said that the proof of his efforts is in the pudding.
“Most of the work I do now here at Queen’s Park is behind the scenes, not in the parliament,” he said Thursday afternoon. “That’s how we secured the hospital funding (and) that’s frankly how we secured a number of projects that have gone forward in Vaughan, so I’m not concerned.”
Sorbara noted that, since the sitting Liberal government has a majority, there has not been a lot of need for debate in order to pass bills. He added that he does not keep track of how many times he has spoken in the Ontario legislature, but that is not how he measures his progress as an MPP anyway.
“There’s all sorts of ways to do politics,” he said. “One of them is to keep your mouth moving in front of the public as much as possible; another is when you have a very good connection to Queen’s Park to make sure that the work that needs to be done in the community is done.”
Donofrio, meanwhile, dismissed longtime Liberal-turned-PC candidate Genco as “an opportunist” who is unsure of his allegiances.
“He had … balls up in the air until the last minute,” Donofrio quipped.
Donofrio himself joined the NDP only about a year ago. He says several planks in the provincial NDP’s platform appealed to him, among them removing the HST from hydro and home heating, lowering taxes for small businesses and freezing transit fares.
If elected MPP, he says, he will also commit to building more facilities for Vaughan’s youth.
“My vision is to have a centre for the arts, and a sports complex that allows the great talent of the youth of Vaughan to be nurtured and grown beyond their dreams,” he said.
In a conversation with VaughanToday.ca, Donofrio criticized a published statement by Sorbara that suggested Vaughan’s newly approved hospital could be in jeopardy should the Liberals not be re-elected in October.
“I think holding the residents of Vaughan hostage for the hospital is very low,” Donofrio said. “If Greg’s not re-elected that’s great, because I’ll be there with a shovel in my hand ready to dig a hole for the hospital.”
The 43-year-old married father of two has lived in Woodbridge for more than 10 years. He is CEO of Auto Arbitration, an automobile consultation company.