If the Progressive Conservatives win Ontario's next election, they will radically overhaul Toronto's transit system and expand it in the suburbs, Leader Tim Hudak pledged.
In a major speech to party faithful in downtown Toronto Tuesday evening, Mr. Hudak highlighted his transportation plan, inserting himself into the issue that dominates the province's largest city.
"There's no shortage of politicians talking about how important this issue is, but what matters is who's going to take action, who's going to get the job done. And I'm prepared to do exactly what the job takes," he said.
A Tory government would merge the TTC subway and future LRT lines with GO Transit and local expressways into a single system, he said. Mr. Hudak also pledged to extend existing subway lines to Richmond Hill and deeper into Scarborough.
The TTC's priority project – a new subway that would take pressure off the overcrowded Yonge line, extending north to Don Mills and west to Parkdale – was not mentioned.
Mr. Hudak also took aim at transit labour agreements as a place where extra money to fund the system could be found.
Mr. Hudak's speech largely ditched soaring rhetoric for a straightforward rundown of party policy.
He outlined a small-government platform, including tax cuts for businesses, streamlined rules and regulations, new labour laws aimed at ensuring businesses aren't obliged to hire unionized workers and an overhaul of government employees' pensions to make them cheaper.
He also outlined a plan to pay performance bonuses to government workers to introduce private sector motivation into government departments.
"If a nurse applies the latest training to get a patient back on his feet faster than anyone else though possible, or a teacher performs minor miracles helping a child who always struggled to read learn the joy of reading a book – shouldn't we reward them based on their performance, not just based on their seniority?" he said.
Mr. Hudak also pledged to run his next campaign based on a clear set of policy rather than simply criticizing the government.
"I will not ask the people of this province to vote against the other leaders and their parties, but to vote for a plan for a better Ontario," he said.
The fundraiser was attended by scores of the city's business leaders and a smattering of local politicians, including Doug Ford. The popular Etobicoke councillor and brother of Mayor Rob Ford, who recently announced that he will run for the Tories in the next election, drew a round of applause when he was introduced. Also in attendance was TTC chair Karen Stintz.
The evening pulled in $2-million for the party, money it sorely needs as it looks to pay down debt from the last election.