Premier Doug Ford signals strong support for controversial Highway 413

My way is the highway.

That’s the message from Premier Doug Ford when it comes to controversial developments like Highway 413 and the Bradford bypass.

Ford, who is on a campaign-style swing to Windsor on Monday, is signalling that the Progressive Conservatives’ road to re-election will be paved with asphalt.

In the wake of a multi-million dollar advertising blitz this month touting Tory support for the massive Greater Toronto Area projects, the premier was asked about his support for the construction.

“It’s going to save a tremendous amount of time,” he insisted Friday of the proposed Highway 413.

He disputed a study by the previous Liberal government, which cancelled the scheme, claiming it would only save drivers between 30 to 60 seconds on their commute.

The Ministry of Transportation counters that the 60-km highway connecting Milton from Highway 401 to Highway 400 at Vaughan could save motorists 30 minutes.

Highway 413, which is opposed by affected local municipalities, would raze 2,000 acres of farmland, cut through 85 waterways, and pave over some 400 acres of protected Greenbelt land in Vaughan.

“Folks, we’re a growing province. We’re one of the fastest growing jurisdictions in North America,” said Ford.

“We see the influx of people coming here, which I welcome. We need more people to fill the jobs,” the premier said.

“The highways are congested everywhere. It doesn’t matter what 400 series highway you take, no matter if it’s the 401, which is like a parking lot or going in the 403 and so on, so forth,” he said.

“We need more people to get from point A to point B in a much more faster fashion that they can spend time with their families and we can transport goods from point A to point B.”

Ford is also a booster of the proposed Bradford bypass, a 16.2-km highway connecting Highway 400 and Highway 404, crossing 27 waterways, and cutting through environmentally sensitive Holland Marsh lands.

“Building infrastructure, that’s what we do. That’s what I do as a premier. I build infrastructure, I build transit, I build bridges, hospitals, schools and we’re going to continue building,” he said.

“As we’re growing and we’re going to see a tremendous amount of people come to this province. Again, we’re at 15 million. I’m guessing in 15 years we’ll be closer to 19 million. We can’t afford more backlogs on highways.”

In the run-up to the June 2 provincial election, Ford’s Tories last week unveiled three slick TV ads promoting the premier as an optimistic builder and his main rivals as pesky pessimists.

“I hear it all the time, politicians are famous for finding reasons to say ‘no.’ That’s not me. I’m Doug Ford, leader of the Ontario PCs, and we’re the party saying ‘yes,’” an ebullient premier says over footage of him happily meeting voters.

“Yes, to building highways you can drive on, so you don’t sit in gridlock,” the premier continues.

“Yes, to building homes more families can afford. We are the only party looking to the future and we’re ready to build.”

A separate 30-second commercial, which was airing in Sunday’s prime-time NFL game, blasts NDP Leader Andrea Horwath as as a politician who “says one thing and does another.”

“She talks about tackling the housing crisis but opposes building more homes. She says she’s against gridlock but opposes building highways,” the female narrator says as the message, “No, to the 413 highway,” flashes across the screen.

Horwath has said “it’s no secret” she opposes Highway 413.

“I’m proud to be a protector of the environment,” she said last week. “I’m proud to say that I don’t believe we need to be building new highways, plowing through the Greenbelt, plowing through farmland.”

“It’s just shocking that this government wants to go forward with these kinds of plans.”

A third Tory commercial, which does not mention highway construction, takes aim at Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca.

“Remember life under Kathleen Wynne? Steven Del Duca wants to take us back. He was Kathleen Wynne’s right-hand man,” the female narrator warns over a montage of the two Liberals and video of Del Duca from his Facebook page.

“Together they sent your hydro bills skyrocketing, sold Hydro One, all while Liberal insiders got rich,” she says, in reference to the former Liberal premier’s sale of the province’s majority stake in the electricity transmission utility.

“Ontario crumbled under Kathleen Wynne and Steven Del Duca. Let’s not go back.”

Robert Benzie is the Star’s Queen’s Park bureau chief and a reporter covering Ontario politics. Follow him on Twitter: @robertbenzie


Conversations are opinions of our readers and are subject to the Code of Conduct. The Star does not endorse these opinions.

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