McKay fears for Toronto’s future
McKay fears for Toronto’s future
By Susan O’Neill
Although Liberal MP John McKay is pleased to be returning to Ottawa after being re-elected in Scarborough-Guildwood Monday, the veteran politician fears for the city’s future as Conservative leader Stephen Harper prepares to take control of Parliament Hill.
“We’re euchred,” McKay said of Toronto during an interview Monday night at his campaign headquarters on Kingston Road. “I think it’s quite problematic that the GTA will not be represented in government. I don’t know how that will play out, but I can’t imagine how this is good for Toronto,” McKay said shortly after Harper won a minority government.
McKay said he fears what a Conservative government will mean for the proposed Scarborough subway and for the review of York Region’s Big Pipe project and its impact on the Rouge River.
“I can’t imagine how these simple-minded solutions of either cut your taxes or throw people in jail will deal with the complexities of the problems that face Toronto,” he said.
“So on the face of it, I think Toronto is the big loser in this election.” He noted the city constitutes 22 percent of Canada’s economy.
“It is clearly the engine that drives the nation’s wealth, has increasing infrastructure and other needs. …I don’t see how this is going to work.”
McKay, who was first elected to Parliament in 1997, will be serve as a member of the opposition for the first time.
“In opposition you’re a bit of a voice in the wilderness… in part representing the most significant political, cultural, economic entity in the nation,” McKay said adding “when you are out of government, you have no leverage. And that will be reality for Toronto.
“I will no longer be able to approach the prime minister and say, These are the needs of Scarborough-Guildwood, or Scarborough, or Toronto, or the GTA,” said McKay, who admitted he was “disturbed” by the results.
“I have no confidence that Stephen Harper and the Conservatives get it,” he said. “They already have a $30-billion hole in their platform, and that’s before the provincial premiers even get to them.”
He continued, saying, “I think we wake up with a massive head-ache (Tuesday morning). I think we realize we are now the junior partner of (U.S. President) George (W.) Bush. I think that a number of foreign policy initiatives – Iraq, Kyoto, missile defence – are now going to be reviewed if not reversed … and Lord knows what happens with the social policy issues.”
McKay received 53.3 per cent of the vote Monday, followed by Conservative candidate Pauline Browes with 28.7 percent and NDP candidate Peter Campbell with 14.2 per cent. Almost 63 per cent of the riding’s eligible voters cast ballots Monday, with 41,077 of 65,353 going to the polls.
“This particular win is quite satisfying on a personal level, “McKay said. “It was easily the nastiest campaign I’ve ever been involved in,” said the father of two, who has run against numerous opponents over the years.
“They all sort of stayed with the bounds of civility, not so this time,” he said in reference to Browes. “I do want to compliment the NDP and the Green guy for the decency with which they ran their campaigns.”
In an interview following a speech at her campaign headquarters on Lawrence Avenue, Browes said, “I think we ran a very positive campaign… we certainly brought up issues that were important to the people.”
Browes, a former cabinet minister in the former prime minister Brian Mulroney government told supporters, “We’re really proud of Stephen Harper. We are proud he is now the Prime Minister of Canada.
“Although Browes lost the race, she said “something special has happened in Scarborough-Guildwood because we have made many friends.”
She continued, saying, “We are going to have integrity, honesty and accountability (in Ottawa). This is what Stephen Harper is going to deliver for us.”
Browes, who arrived at her campaign office shortly after 10:30 p.m., told her supporters, “There’s no doubt that you and I are disappointed that not one seat in Toronto went Conservative… it is the largest engine in the whole country and they still don’t get it… this is outrageous. If somebody stole $100 from you would you invite them in for dinner? These guys (the Liberals) have been rewarded and I don’t think they should have, but we have to accept the vote,” said Browes, who indicated she may run again in the next federal election.
“We may be back at this in, oh my gosh, 18 months,” she said.
“We will be together and we will build together, this is just the beginning of the next election…we’ll lay down and rest a while and then we’ll start again,” she added.
McKay also said he’s not going to rest on his laurels. “I’m going to say to my staff, ‘Don’t throw away the signs.”’