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NDP caucus to meet in the morning to discuss budget: Gélinas

By: Darren MacDonald - Sudbury Northern Life

 | May 01, 2014 - 8:50 PM |
Nickel Belt MPP France Gélinas said Thursday the fact that Andrea Horwath skipped the budget lockup does not mean the NDP plans to vote against the provincial budget. File photo.

Nickel Belt MPP France Gélinas said Thursday the fact that Andrea Horwath skipped the budget lockup does not mean the NDP plans to vote against the provincial budget. File photo.

Liberal plan includes $26.7M in funding for Maley Drive extension

The fact that Andrea Horwath skipped the budget lockup does not mean the NDP plans to vote against the provincial budget, Nickel Belt MPP France Gélinas said Thursday.

Gélinas said no matter what Horwath had done, it would have been interpreted as a sign she was going to force an election – or wasn't.

“It's crazy around here today,” Gélinas said, on the phone from Queen's Park. “Everyone in the media become experts in reading the tea-leaves. There's nothing that she could have done that wouldn't have been interpreted 100 different ways.”

So Horwath, Gélinas and the rest of the NDP caucus will spend the night pouring over the $130.4-billion spending plan and meet first thing tomorrow to talk in detail. Rather than stringing the Liberals along, she said the party wants to look at the impact on the middle class in the province.

“We have to make our best assessment – not just on the highlights, but on the full details that have been shared with us,” she said. “I'm sure there will be some tense discussions.”

The fact Premier Kathleen Wynne has given Horwath a week to decide one way or another will surely be debated, as well, she said.

“That will play into the mix when we talk tomorrow.”

Sudbury MPP Rick Bartolucci said he accepts that Horwath wants time to decide, but the government doesn't want to wait weeks as it did in 2013 for the NDP to make up its mind.

“Fair enough,” Bartolucci said. “But people are sent to Queen's Park to make decisions. Sometimes tough decisions. So I think Premier Wynne is saying, OK, are you going to support the budget? Are you not going to support the budget?

“A week is plenty of time.”

Bartolucci highlighted three aspects of the budget he's most pleased with: funding for a Learner's Space at Health Sciences North, a commitment to four-lane another 11 km of Highway 69 from Parry Sound to Sudbury, and, most of all, $26.7 million for the first phase of the Maley Drive extension.

It's a project that has been on the books since the 1980s, and it's the city's highest-priority when it comes to infrastructure. It would widen Maley Drive to four lanes, from the Falconbridge Highway to Barrydowne Road. Then a new road would connect to College Boreal at the Lasalle Extension, which would also be widened to four lanes until it links up with Municipal Road 35, leading to Azilda.

“Today, our community should be celebrating,” Bartolucci said. “I've worked with three different infrastructure ministers to try to get this project approved. And finally, it is in this budget. I'm very, very proud.”

In a release, Mayor Marianne Matichuk said the announcement was a long time coming.

“This is excellent news for Greater Sudbury,” Matichuk said. “Maley has long been a priority for city council and I’m proud our patience and hard work has been rewarded. I want to thank Premier Kathleen Wynne, Infrastructure Minister Glen Murray, Finance Minister Charles Sousa, and Sudbury MPP Rick Bartolucci for listening to our concerns.”

The city has already committed its one-third share and re-submitted its application to the federal government on April 29. Phase 1 of the project is worth $80 million, and includes construction of a new four-lane road near the intersection of Frood Road and Lasalle Boulevard West to extend Maley Drive to Barrydowne Road, and the reconstruction of the existing piece of Maley Drive from Barrydowne to Falconbridge Road.

Construction is ready to begin in 2014 with completion in 2016.

But the budget has to pass first, Bartolucci said, urging Northern MPPs to support the plan.

“The people of Nickel Belt, the people of Sudbury, don't want an election,” he said. “I'm hoping Liberal and NDP members across the North will support this budget, because it is good for Sudbury, Nickel Belt and Northern Ontario.”
Darren MacDonald

Darren MacDonald

Staff Writer

@Darrenmacd

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