Patrick Brown says he'll be a 'partner the mayor can depend on'

Ontario PC leader 'open' to helping Toronto repair community housing

Ontario PC Leader Patrick Brown said Monday his government would be a partner that Toronto Mayor John Tory can depend on if it is elected to run the province.

Brown announced seven plans his opposition party will begin working on during a meeting with Tory, including introducing a private member's bill that would allow Toronto Community Housing to refuse to rehouse tenants evicted for criminal behaviour — a hot topic at last week's city council meeting.

He also waded into an emerging battle between Tory and the Liberal government over investments in social housing repairs and future transit projects, one that intensified following the news conference as provincial Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca defended the government's investments in the city, suggesting the mayor has gone too far in his criticism of the budget.

"Toronto needs a partner they can trust and rely on. Who honours commitments that have been made," Brown told reporters. "We will fight for the city of Toronto."

However, Brown declined to make a firm dollar commitment to the city on housing and transit, saying that would be premature at this point. Here are the new suggestions he made:

- Approve the mayor's request to block violent criminals who have been evicted from Toronto Community Housing Buildings from being allowed to re-apply for a TCH unit.

- Streamline development "to increase supply and affordability in the housing market."

- Direct Metrolinx to make SmartTrack fares uniform with TTC fares.

- Commit to regular meetings with Tory. 

Liberal ministers fire back at Tory

At a hastily-called news conference outside the mayor's office, Del Duca said he wanted to "set the record straight" when it comes to the money the province is giving the city.

"The province is providing more than 70 per cent of all the funding needed for the transit that's currently being built, or will be built soon, in the City of Toronto," he said.

Del Duca said he recognizes there's more work to be done, but said it's "premature" for Tory to be calling for funding for future projects that "aren't ready to be built" and don't have a "defined contribution" from the city itself. Those projects include the Eglinton East LRT, Waterfront LRT and Downtown Relief Line. 

He also accused Tory of "effectively campaigning against sitting Liberal MPPs," at a Toronto Community Housing complex on Sunday, something he called "over the line." 

On housing, Del Duca said the premier and housing minister are in talks with Tory's office.

An open letter from Housing Minister Chris Ballard's office, however, reiterated its ongoing investments in Toronto's affordable housing market in recent years and took a shot at Tory. 

"Instead of pointing fingers like the City is doing today, we need to build on our strong relationship and keep building the fair society we know Torontonians want instead," the letter said. 

Brown opposed Toronto's road toll plan

At last Thursday's budget lockup, Brown criticized the government's move to let Toronto tax hotels and Airbnb rentals — saying it wouldn't be a Liberal government without a new tax — and previously opposed the city's plan to toll the Gardiner Expressway and Don Valley Parkway.

Brown said he would give the city more money by better managing the infrastructure money the province has.

In a news release, Brown also called on Premier Kathleen Wynne to personally intervene to ensure Bombardier vehicles for the Eglinton-Crosstown project are delivered on time. 

Tory, who also recently held a meeting with NDP Leader Andrea Horwath, has said he doesn't intend to endorse a candidate in the next provincial election, but won't hesitate to highlight what parties have ideas that would benefit the city.