People ‘won’t feel’ gas tax cut at pumps, Wynne says, but transit is at risk

Ontario Liberal Leader Kathleen Wynne rolled into her latest campaign stop aboard a brand new Ottawa LRT train Thursday morning.

She was in Ottawa to promote her government’s spending on transit infrastructure, including funding for both stage one and stage two of LRT.

It’s money brought to you, in part, by the provincial gas tax, Wynne says, but it’s funding she attests is at risk in the upcoming election.

“The reason that we need to be clear about this, at this moment in this election campaign, is that all of this could be at risk,” Wynne said. “That’s not hyperbole. I’m not exaggerating in any way. The reality is that Doug Ford, at this moment, is taking money out of the very funds that help to build infrastructure. By saying he’ll take ten cents out of the gas tax, that’s a billion dollars. That is huge support every year for building infrastructure.”

While Ford did pledge this week to cut the provincial gas tax and scrap the province’s cap and trade program, he has been explicit in his support for stage two of LRT in Ottawa. Ford has said numerous times that the provincial funding that has already been pledged for the stage two expansion would not be at risk if he becomes Premier.

Wynne also said the NDP’s plan does not mention Ottawa’s LRT plans, though the New Democrat platform does promise that an NDP government would cover 50% of all municipal transit operating costs in Ontario.

But still, Wynne warned that a new government would grind transit investments to a halt.

“It’s easy to stop it, it’s easy to wreck the progress,” Wynne said. “We have to keep the momentum going.”

When asked by reporters about Ford’s pledge to reduce the gas tax, Wynne was skeptical it would make a difference to consumers.

“There’s a direct connection between the ability to invest in transit and the gas tax, that’s a reality,” she said. “I know he's saying he'll take ten cents out. We know that most people won’t feel that. We know that. The reality is that the prices fluctuate and vacillate wildly. There are global forces that are forcing gas prices up. He’s suggesting that taking money out of the gas tax to stop building transit projects is a good idea. I’m saying that’s a short-sighted, bad idea.”

Ford has suggested that by reducing the gas tax, the price at the pumps will fall, and consumers will have more money to spend, thus stimulating the economy.

Wynne’s itinerary for Thursday also includes stops in Kingston and Whitby.