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Mulcair, Cressy against island airport expansion, support transit funding

May 27th, 2014 · Comments Off on Mulcair, Cressy against island airport expansion, support transit funding


Leader of the Opposition and NDP leader Thomas Mulcair and federal by-election candidate Joe Cressy walk the walk with the Gleaner recently in Little Italy. BRIAN BURCHELL/GLEANER NEWS

Leader of the Opposition and NDP leader Thomas Mulcair and federal by-election candidate Joe Cressy walk the walk with the Gleaner recently in Little Italy. BRIAN BURCHELL/GLEANER NEWS


By Annemarie Brissenden

Thomas Mulcair leaves his hockey hoodie at home in Montreal when he visits Toronto.
“When I went for my run this morning, I had on a great big Habs hoodie, and I thought…maybe I should bring this to Toronto, and then I thought…nah,” joked the official opposition and New Democratic Party (NDP) leader over an exclusive and wide-ranging conversation with the Gleaner last month. Accompanied by Joe Cressy, the NDP candidate for Trinity-Spadina, the gentlemen spoke over coffee at Il Gatto Nero, where nothing, not the Central Technical School field, the proposed island airport expansion, or the mayoral race, was off the menu.
It seems appropriate, given that a diversity of taste is what defines the area for Mulcair.
“We’re in an Italian café, I can see the Portuguese flag across the street, you’re in an area where you’ve got the best to celebrate every bit of Canadian diversity, which is magnified tenfold here in Trinity-Spadina,” said Mulcair.
For Cressy, it’s the parks that give the area its special flavour.
“This is a riding where our neighbourhoods define [themselves] by their parks. Christie Pits to Trinity-Bellwood…Bickford Park to Jean Sibelius. You talk about building a community, and with the condominiums in the south, the park is home,” said Cressy, who has keenly followed the Toronto District School Board’s attempt to bring a championship field to Central Technical School at Harbord and Bathurst streets.
A resident of Albany Avenue, he plays soccer on the field in the summer, so “I’ve been very involved, as have many, as I value Central Tech as a pillar in our community as a place to do recreation and come together.” And, he recognizes the concerns of the local neighbourhood about the proposal to bring in the dome.
“It’s not just around congestion and parking,” explained Cressy, “but access to our greenspace and our field.”
He is equally opposed to expanding the island airport, and defined the debate as a choice between “a large, diverse, and vibrant waterfront that happens to have a small airport” and “a large airport that happens to have a small waterfront.”
Mulcair agreed, noting that the tripartite agreement must be the starting point, and that any change would need broader support.
“The project that’s there now was controversial in its time,” commented Mulcair. “With the tripartite agreement in place, everyone has made their peace with the current situation, but [expanding the island airport] would be a huge change. We would never consider something like that without very widespread social adhesion, which doesn’t seem to be the case right now.”
The only mayoral candidate clearly opposed to expanding the island airport is Olivia Chow. Unsurprisingly, she is also the candidate that both Cressy and Mulcair support.
“I am an active supporter, and was an early encourager for Olivia to run,” said Cressy, who was the campaign chair for Olivia Chow and Mike Layton, and the president of the Trinity-Spadina federal NDP riding association. “Our city deserves better than our current mayor.”
“Rob Ford has been an embarrassment to Canada’s most important city,” added Mulcair. “I don’t enjoy the fact that the only time Toronto gets referred to in the American press is when his most recent video of his appalling behaviour is on display. I think Torontonians deserve better, and that with Olivia Chow they’ll have much better.”
Mulcair and Cressy admitted that it can be difficult to champion Toronto in the federal arena, but they are both committed to pursuing an urban agenda in Ottawa.
“We are a highly urbanized country. People tend to overlook the fact that we’ve stopped investing federally in those areas,” said Mulcair. “We’re asking municipalities to form the impossible. We’re giving them 8% of the tax base and we’re asking them to take care of 60% of the infrastructure. That is just a mathematical impossibility.”
“I am running to proudly champion downtown Toronto,” said Cressy. “Here in the GTA we’re losing $6 billion a year because of gridlock, in lost productivity. And so it’s a quality of life issue. It’s an environmental issue, and it’s also about economic productivity. If we’re going to get Torontonians moving again, we need stable, predictable, and permanent funding for transit. That’s the key. Not just for the next generation, but supporting existing transit to alleviate congestion.”
While for Cressy, then, transit is the most critical issue facing Trinity-Spadina, for Mulcair it is income inequality.
“For the past 35 years, the average Canadian family has actually seen their revenue drop. It’s the first time that’s ever happened in our history,” explained Mulcair. “Whether it’s a social program, or a social service, there are, from a social democratic view, things that you can do to create opportunity, but the fundamental role is to reduce income inequality in our society. That’s my number one job as a national leader.”

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