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Ottawa has ‘abandoned’ Toronto on transit funding, say provincial transportation minister

Glen Murray, Ontario Minister of Transportation and Minister of Infrastructure, speaks to the press at Toronto City Hall after a meeting with Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, discussing ways to pay for a proposed subway extension to Scarborough. )

philip cheung The Globe and Mail

The federal government has "abandoned" Toronto when it comes to building public transit, Ontario Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Glen Murray said after his counterpart in Ottawa cancelled a meeting with him.

Mr. Murray had been scheduled to sit down this week with federal Transportation Minister Lisa Raitt, where he planned to press her for a federal contribution to a planned extension of the Toronto subway in Scarborough. The province is paying two-thirds of the project's cost and had been hoping Ottawa would kick in some money to help cover the rest.

But, Mr. Murray said, Ms. Raitt cancelled their meeting. The two sides arranged for a telephone call, but she cancelled that, too, he said.

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"We're not getting the federal government. They have abandoned us on transit and transportation and infrastructure. They're not picking up their share," Mr. Murray said Friday afternoon following an announcement at the Toronto waterfront.

A former mayor of Winnipeg, Mr. Murray said Ottawa is much more generous with other parts of the country than it is with its largest city.

"When you're a Manitoban, every conversation with the federal government starts one-third, one-third, one-third," he said. "When you live in Toronto and you put a 416 area code in front of your phone, all of a sudden there are no federal dollars. [Queen's Park picks] up two-thirds or 100 per cent of all transit projects here."

He said he gave Ms. Raitt his mobile number, but said he had not heard from her.

Ms. Raitt's office said she still planned to meet with Mr. Murray.

"Minister Raitt looks forward to working with Minister Murray. They will meet as soon as schedules allow," her spokeswoman, Ashley Kelahear, wrote in an e-mail.

The federal government has contributed some cash toward Toronto transit, picking up part of the tab for the extension of the Spadina subway line into York Region, for instance. But on most of the city's large transit projects – including the massive Eglinton LRT – the province is paying the entire cost.

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Mr. Murray accused Ottawa of treating citizens of Ontario as "second-class" Canadians.

"It's about time that some of the tax dollars we send to Ottawa start coming back to us," he said. "I'm really finding this is almost becoming a Monty Python skit right now of the two Canadas."

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About the Author
Washington correspondent

Adrian Morrow covers U.S. politics from Washington, D.C. Previously he was The Globe's Ontario politics reporter. He's covered news, crime and sports for The Globe since 2010. He won the National Newspaper Award for politics reporting in 2016. More

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