Toronto Liberal MPs reaffirm $2.6B federal commitment for transit
'We are not going pull the rug out from council,' MP Adam Vaughan said.
The promise of billions of dollars in federal funding for Mayor John Tory's SmartTrack plan is still on the rails, 14 Toronto Liberal MPs pledged Thursday at city hall.
The MPs showed up partly to reassure Tory about the fate of some $2.6 billion promised by the former Conservative government to help relieve Toronto's traffic congestion.
"Everyone around the table from the two levels of government gets it," Tory said.
Spadina-Fort York MP Adam Vaughan spelled out the Liberals' support for Mayor Tory's plans.
"The commitment already put in place around SmartTrack, around the Scarborough subway ... those commitments were already made," Vaughan said. "We are not going pull the rug out from council; that's happened too many times before.
"I'd like to reiterate the word 'partnership,'" the former city councillor said, "not just between the city of Toronto and the federal government but between the federal government and cities right across this country."
Vaughan said his government will work in partnership with cities on the key issues including transit, housing, social equity, immigration, in addition to others which are part of the federal government's responsibilities.
But, he added, the specific plans will be up to the cities, and Ottawa won't interfere.
Ottawa's job 'not to draw lines on maps'
Asked if the federal Liberals will specifically support Mayor Tory's SmartTrack plan or if they'll be open to the decisions city council makes, Vaughan said, "Our job in Ottawa is not to draw lines on maps."
In June, then-prime minister Stephen Harper pledged to put $2.6 billion toward SmartTrack. At the time, Tory expressed confidence the city could come up with its share.
Under Harper's plan the city would have to apply for the funding — a billion dollars per year starting in 2019 — just like other cities in Canada.
How the city will come up with its portion of the $8 billion price tag remains an open question.
Campaigning during the federal election in October, Justin Trudeau said the Liberals were "fully committed to the federal share" of SmartTrack.
"We know the federal government has been missing in action for the last decade. This government is back to have a conversation," Vaughan said Thursday.