Conservative leader Erin O’Toole is making her pitch to voters in the Greater Toronto Area, a vote-rich area that will play a key role in the September 20 federal election.
GTA spans over 50 ridings, most of which are held by the Liberals, with all 25 seats in Toronto proper.
But O’Toole has suburban and outsider voters because he aims to boost the conservative share of the vote in a wider area.
The party won a majority of seats there 10 years ago, but lost to Justin Trudeau’s Liberals in 2015 and saw its vote share drop by five points in 2019 under then-leader Andrew Scheer.
At a regional transit station in Whitby, Ont., O’Toole emphasized housing affordability, rapid transit projects, tackling gang violence, and improving health care.
The Go Transit parking lot incident marked the Tory leader’s second visit to Liberal-held Whitby in two days, before he flew to British Columbia to make his closing arguments to voters on the West Coast.
O’Toole’s platform Plank on public transportation pledges to “invest in urgent projects” that cut commute times and create jobs, but doesn’t attach any specific funding.
Asked on Saturday whether he would promise at least $5 billion for the transit, O’Toole declined to make a specific offer.
“I’m going to build things. I’m going to shovel the field, I’m going to work,” he said, accusing Trudeau of not backing up “ambition” with “achievement.”
The GTA pitch didn’t go off without a hitch.
On Friday, the Conservative Party confirmed that they had dropped Beaches-East York candidate Lisa Robinson after the ride’s Liberal incumbent, Nate Erskine-Smith, highlighted Islamophobic tweets from 2017.
“We are 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 on Saturday.
Robinson denied that the account titled “Ward 1 Councillor, Candidate” was his.
He said in a post on his campaign Facebook page, “The information contained in Mr. Erskine-Smith’s social media posts was generated by a fake social media account that I reported to the police in 2018. I sought to verify these facts.” have also signed a verification. Friday.
“Racism and Islamophobia have no place in the Conservative Party of Canada or my campaign.”
O’Toole also appeared to offer tacit approval for Tory candidates who have not been fully vaccinated to campaign in retirement residences, as long as they adhere to public health measures.
The question was raised after Michelle Ferreri, the Conservative candidate for Peterborough-Kawartha, posted photos of her campaigning in a senior citizens’ residence despite receiving only one shot.
“We will follow all measures including vaccines, daily rapid testing, masking and social distancing to keep people safe. This is not just an expectation, it is a commitment that all members of our team will have to keep people safe in a pandemic election that Mr Trudeau said,” O’Toole said.
Conservatives say they will prioritize the construction of four rapid transit projects in the GTA: the Ontario Line, which will include a section running under Queen Street; Extension of the Yonge Metro Line to Markham and Richmond Hill; the controversial three-stop Scarborough Metro extension; and an add-on to the Eglington Light-Rail Line bound for Etobicoke and Mississauga.
O’Toole also took note of the housing crisis, re-announcing measures to cool the hot housing market and keep home ownership within reach of more Canadians. The plan, which turns into an affordable thread that it has been weaving throughout the campaign, includes building one million homes in three years and lifting barriers for foreign investors.
Similarly, the Liberals have pledged to stop the practice of “flipping” properties, along with building 1.4 million homes over four years and preventing foreign nationals from buying them for two.
“Many people, especially young people, are priced out of the housing market,” O’Toole said.
“And many people are already struggling with mortgage and car payments, buying gas and groceries, while Justin Trudeau drives up the cost of everything with out-of-control spending, borrowing and loans, ” They said.
Home prices have continued to climb this year _ even in suburban corners of the GTA _ as remote working continues and business closures during the COVID-19 pandemic have helped people save cash for big purchases.
According to the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board, the average price of a home in the area rose to $1.07 million in August, up from about $951,000 in the same period last year.
O’Toole sought to emphasize his roots in the area, noting that he grew up in Bowmanville, Ont., when his father moved to nearby Oshawa before serving as a Tory MP in the provincial legislature for 19 years. I worked in a GM plant.
“I used to have a 905 phone number growing up. And I still do,” he said, adding that he knows the daily suburban commute well from his time as a Bay Street attorney.