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MPs must deliver cash: councillors

The number 1 issue concerning the City of Vaughan in the current federal campaign, councillors say, is infrastructure.

By a long shot.

With the Oct. 14 election fast approaching, the city’s leaders are sizing up the contenders in Vaughan and Thornhill, hoping the two ridings’ next MPs will deliver cash to keep the bones of the city healthy.

“We have a real problem in that the federal parties, especially the government, … are doing everything they can to evade addressing the critical issues facing the cities in Canada today: infrastructure,” Councillor Alan Shefman said last week. “There’s obviously many, many other issues that are significant in a federal election, but that’s by far the largest issue for municipalities in Canada and the City of Vaughan.”

Regional Councillor Joyce Frustaglio agrees, calling infrastructure “the biggest ticket” in the election. Though a strong supporter of Conservative Leader Stephen Harper, she said his government should have done more.

“Yes, they’ve come to the table with our subway requests, but not enough, not enough to justify the tremendous need that we have in the growth areas,” Frustaglio said Monday.

Councillor Tony Carella says he fears the future health and financial costs Vaughan’s residents could face if significant investment isn’t made in transit. Whoever is victorious on election day, he said, must be a strong advocate for transportation infrastructure in the 905.

“The cost of oil is such that we can’t afford this lifestyle anymore and we desperately need really good public transportation,” he said Friday. “We’ve absolutely got to do something.”

And who do they think is most likely to help the city?

The Liberals are Vaughan’s best bet, Shefman said. In his riding of Thornhill, he likes incumbent Susan Kadis, who he said has proven to be a good representative for her constituents.

Carella was a little less definitive in his answer. He said either the NDP or the Liberal party would deliver the most for the city, but he was crystal clear on who he thinks would deliver the least.

“I don’t think the Conservatives yet get the urban agenda,” he said. “I think they’re still playing to their base, which is predominantly rural and to some extent suburban, but I think people in the suburbs are waking up to the fact that they’re part of the urban agenda.”

The Liberal Party’s choice of Stéphane Dion as leader has proven to be a mistake, Frustaglio said, and NDP Leader Jack Layton is to be discounted because he simply won’t win.

Locally, though, she said she’s got mixed feelings.

“I will be supporting Maurizio Bevilacqua because he has done a super job (and) I’m not impressed with the Conservative candidate,” she said. “Anyone that wants to pursue a political career and starts off by maligning leaders and elected officials in the very municipality that they wish to represent is not the kind of representative that I want going to Ottawa. And that’s pretty much how (Richard) Lorello began his quasi-political career.

“I happen to like Peter Kent for Thornhill,” she added. “I think that he would be a very effective Member of Parliament.”

Kent joins NDP candidate Simon Strelchik and Green Party hopeful Norbert Koehl in trying to unseat Kadis.

In Vaughan, Bevilacqua is fighting off challenges from Lorello, NDP candidate Vicky Wilkin and Green contender Adrian Visentin.

Vaughan Today
In print: October 3, 2008, page 1
Online: October 2, 2008 [link]