Kitchener Mayor Carl Zehr endorses Kathleen Wynne

Kitchener Mayor Carl Zehr endorsed Liberal leader Kathleen Wynne at a Liberal rally in Kitchener on Sunday.
Kitchener Mayor Carl Zehr applauds Liberal leader Kathleen Wynne after giving his first mayoral endorsement to her party. (Jane van Koeverden/CBC)

Kitchener Mayor Carl Zehr says he felt it was 'critical' to voice his support for Ontario Liberal Leader Kathleen Wynne in the days before the provincial election.

Zehr made his endorsement on Sunday at a Liberal rally in Kitchener. 

“What I see in the platforms, it’s a very critical time for our community. Not only in terms of what the Liberals have put forward in their platform for this region and the centrepiece of that is the all-day, two-way GO rail service," Zehr told The Morning Edition host Craig Norris in an interview on Monday.

"The other parties came up later on and said, ‘Oh yeah, that’s a good idea, so we’ll do that too.’ But it was the commitment that Liberals put forward I think that is going to be an absolute game-changer for this community.”

Both the PCs and the NDP have committed to expanded GO service as well, but Zehr said only the Liberals have specifically set aside funding for it in their platform.

"It's surprising to hear Mr. Zehr say that because we endorsed the plan that he and the other mayors put forward with regards to two-way all-day transit and we costed that out in our platform, specifically using the numbers that he used," said Kitchener-Waterloo NDP candidate Catherine Fife.

"So we've made the same commitment for towards transit, the $29 billion that Liberals have promised, but we also want to kick start the Kitchener-Waterloo two-way all-day with a $250 million commitment right away to get shovels in the ground."

Zehr said it's the first time he's endorsing a provincial leader in 17 years as mayor.

“I see such a stark difference and a stark reality after June the 12th that I felt that it was absolutely critical that I make my comments now,” he said.

Zehr announced in February that he would not be running for re-election. In 1990, he ran in the old riding of Kitchener-Wilmot for the Ontario Liberals, but was defeated by NDP candidate Mike Cooper.

“What I suspect and feel from the experience of the previous PC government, that it will actually download costs on to the municipalities. So municipalities are going to have to make real tough choices, cut services as well or further increase property taxes,” said Zehr.

Zehr said Sunday the Ontario Liberals have financially supported the manufacturing, education and technology sectors in Waterloo Region.

Zehr added that the Progressive Conservatives’ proposal to cut 100,000 public sector jobs was "draconian" and would impact the "most vulnerable [members] in our own community."

Wynne later thanked the mayor for his endorsement.

"We’re in the last days of this election. The sprint is on," said Wynne.

The June 12 election is just four days away.

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