John Tory, who is running to be mayor of Toronto, unveiled his four-point economic platform for the city on Thursday.
“Torontonians in every part of the city … need to benefit from our economic success,” he told the Economic Club of Canada.
Jobs must exist “not just downtown and not just along the Yonge line,” he said.
Toronto needs four things to compete globally, Tory said.
1. “We need high-quality education, from pre-school to post-secondary,” Tory told the crowd.
He later acknowledged education is a provincial responsibility, but his established relationships with the three Ontario party leaders would serve him well as mayor.
When Tory was leader of the Ontario Progressive Conservative party in 2007, he proposed expanding provincial funding to all faith-based schools.
That year, he lost in his riding to Kathleen Wynne and Dalton McGuinty’s Liberals remained in power. Wynne is now the premier of Ontario.
2. A competitive tax regime and sound public finances.
Tory said he would keep property tax increases within the rate of inflation.
“That means being tight-fisted at city hall and rooting out the waste,” he said.
Olivia Chow, who left her seat as the NDP MPP for Trinity-Spadina to run for mayor, has also said she would keep property tax increases within the rate of inflation.
3. First-class transportation infrastructure
“Serious, globally-competitive cities have excellent transportation networks, period,” Tory said.
Tory did not say many details about transit, but in past debates, he has said he favours the existing Scarborough subway plan and would focus on creating a downtown relief line.
Fellow mayoral candidate Karen Stintz, the former chair of the TTC, also supports the Scarborough subway and a downtown relief line.
Chow and David Soknacki have come out against the Scarborough subway, favouring instead the the original LRT plan.
Click here to read Chow’s transit plan.
Incumbent Rob Ford is in favour of subways and wants more lines, including one along Finch. After that, he would consider a downtown relief line.
Tory drew on his experience in business, saying the top job of a CEO was that of a “salesman.”
“You have to say things like, ‘I’m going to cut through the red tape and make it easy for you to build your research and development centre in our city,’” Tory said.
“Can you imagine the NDP-candidate for mayor, Olivia Chow, making that call?”
Other issues at city hall
After outlining his planks, Tory said there were other issues that needed fixing at city hall and many processes need to be streamlined.
Tory said the city and businesses need to work together better, pointing to the food-truck issue as emblematic of the “nightmare” that is bureaucracy at city hall.
“This can be a very tough town to do business in,” he said.
“Business leaders shouldn’t need to be municipal legal experts just to get their permits in a reasonable amount of time.”
Tory also vowed to clean up the “jumble” of business agencies in Toronto. Companies that bring jobs and investment to the city need to be unified, he said.
The rate of youth unemployment, which Tory said was around 20 per cent in Toronto, is too high. It’s also a national issue. At almost 14 per cent, youth joblessness is almost twice the national rate.
Tory said he would work with existing groups to connect young people to employers.
The final issue is smart-city technology, such as high-tech traffic lights and more efficient energy management in high-rise buildings.
“I want Toronto to become the research and development centre of the world for smart-city technology.”