John Tory pitches SmartTrack plan to PM

Mayor John Tory met secretly with Prime Minister Stephen Harper last night at Pearson airport — at Prime Minister's office's request — to discuss Toronto's transit woes.

Tory said the leaders discussed transit, jobs and economy

Prime Minister Stephen Harper met with the new mayor last night to discuss Tory's plan to ease traffic congestion in the city. (Sean Kilpatrick/ Canadian Press)

Mayor John Tory met secretly with Prime Minister Stephen Harper last night at Pearson airport — at at Prime Minister's office's request — to discuss "SmartTrack and other transit related matters."

The meeting came on the same day that Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne sent another letter to Harper — the latest in a series of letters to the prime minister — requesting a face-to-face discussion ahead of the federal government's next budget. 

Harper has yet to personally respond to Wynne's proposal, but said last week that the Ontario government should focus less on "confrontation" and more on getting its fiscal house in order.

Tory called the meeting with Harper "very productive and constructive" and said the intent was to familiarize the prime minister with the details of his transit plan. Federal Finance Minister Joe Oliver was also present for the hour-long sit down. 

The mayor said in his press conference Harper "requested a private meeting" but both the mayor's and Prime Minister's office later said the meeting was "mutually requested."

Alleviating traffic congestion and streamlining the start of SmartTrack construction have been priorities for Tory since he formally took office Dec. 1.

On Thursday, Toronto city council voted 42-1 to approve a motion that will speed-up the research phase for the SmartTrack project. Former mayor and currently Ward 2 Etobicoke North Coun. Rob Ford was the only councillor to vote no. 

Tory said earlier this week that his administration will aggressively seek more funding from the federal and provincial governments to tackle the city's most pressing issues, something that Ford largely failed to accomplish despite a number of personal meetings with Harper during his time in office. 

When asked by reporters if he spoke to Harper about ongoing tensions with Wynne, Tory acknowledged that both the federal and provincial governments will be crucial partners to make SmartTrack a success but denied it came up as a topic of discussion.

"I see myself as nothing more than a person who has the benefit of having a great relationship with those governments and the leaders of those governments," he said.

"I hope that we can look at doing the right thing together and hopefully the result of that will be getting SmartTrack done."


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