At a regional transit station in Whitby, Ont., O’Toole stressed housing affordability, rapid transit projects, tackling gang violence and improving health care.
The event in a GO Transit parking lot marked the Tory leader’s second visit to Liberal-held Whitby in two days before he flies to British Columbia to make his closing arguments to voters on the West Coast.
O’Toole’s platform plank on public transit pledges to “immediately invest in projects” that cut commute times and create jobs, but attaches no specific funding amount.
Asked Saturday if he would commit at least $5 billion to transit, O’Toole declined to offer specifics.
“I’m going to get things built. I’m going to get shovels in the ground, I’m going to get things done,” he said, accusing Trudeau of never backing up “ambition” with “achievement.”
The GTA pitch did not go off without a hitch.
On Friday, the Conservative party confirmed they had dumped Beaches-East York candidate Lisa Robinson after the riding’s Liberal incumbent, Nate Erskine-Smith, highlighted Islamophobic tweets from 2017.
“We’re running a positive campaign based on bringing the country together and getting the country back on its feet from an economic point of view. And I want people on my team to share that,” O’Toole said Saturday.
Robinson denied that the account, titled “Ward 1 city councillor, candidate,” was hers.
“The information contained in Mr. Erskine-Smith’s social media post was generated by a fake social media account which I reported to police in 2018. I have also signed an attestation confirming these facts,” she said in a post on her campaign Facebook page Friday.
“Racism and Islamophobia have no place in the Conservative Party of Canada or my campaign.”
The Conservatives said they will prioritize construction of four rapid transit projects in the GTA: the Ontario line, which would include a section running underneath Queen Street; an extension to the Yonge subway line reaching into Markham and Richmond Hill; the controversial three-stop Scarborough subway extension; and an add-on to the Eglington light-rail line bound for Etobicoke and Mississauga.
O’Toole also zeroed in on the housing crisis, re-announcing a suite of measures to cool the heated housing market and put home ownership within reach of more Canadians. The plan, which folds into an affordability thread he’s been weaving throughout the campaign, includes building a million homes in three years and raising barriers to foreign investors.
Similarly, the Liberals have promised to build 1.4 million homes over four years and block foreign nationals from buying them for two, as well as promising to curb the practice of “flipping” properties.
“Far too many people, especially young people, are priced out of the housing market,” O’Toole said.
“And too many are already struggling with mortgage and car payments, buying gas and groceries, while Justin Trudeau drives up the cost of everything with his out-of-control spending, borrowing and debt,” he said.
Home prices have continued to climb this year — even in suburban corners of the GTA — as remote work persists and business shutdowns during the COVID-19 pandemic helped people save cash for big purchases.
The average price of a home in the area rose to $1.07 million in August from about $951,000 at the same time last year, according to the Toronto Regional Real Estate board.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 11, 2021.
Christopher Reynolds, The Canadian Press