Laura Albanese has had a tough week in the House. She keeps trying to push forward on the Air Rail Link, but just can’t get any traction. On Tuesday, she couldn’t get a straight answer. Yesterday, her private member’s motion got only tepid support.
Albanese asked the Province to “embrace electrification as a strategy for powering commuter rail” and complete the the electrification of the air-rail link by 2015.”
In her speech, Albanese listed all the reasons to love electrification, and called Metrolinx out to give it a bit of a spanking, saying:
Electrification of the air-rail link by 2015 is achievable. I continue to advocate for the 2015 date as a target for completion of construction. I believe we can, as a Legislature, set expectations and targets. If we do not, then we are leaving this decision to Metrolinx.
My message to Metrolinx is that they need to work harder, be more efficient and, knowing the importance of electrification to the people living along the corridor, innovate, create and resolve. The year 2015 is still four years away….
Albanese’s motion was about as popular as weak beer. Conservative transportation critic Frank Klees and New Democrat Cheri DiNovo both took her to task, but not because they don’t like electrification. They took Albanese to task for not going far enough.
Frank Klees said:
I’m participating in this debate with very mixed feelings. I want to recognize, of course, the member from York–South Weston for her initiative. But… I also have to view with a great deal of cynicism this resolution.
The honourable member is not supported by her government. She is not supported by the Minister of Transportation. She is not supported by her colleagues….
But I say to the honourable member, the issue is not whether this resolution passes; it’s whether or not action is taken by the government to actually deal with it. We have a very strong indication already that that is not happening.
[Metrolinx is] moving ahead with the purchase of equipment for this air-rail link that involves diesel vehicles…. Why? Here’s the reason: Because the government—not Metrolinx—has given an artificial timeline for this air-rail link to be completed, in time for the Pan Am Games 2015.
Cheri DiNovo, whose riding the ARL also runs through, criticized the electrification plan from several angles, and concluded with some thoughts for Albanese, and a warning that her seat is in danger:
I have to say that if the McGuinty government really valued the seats in York South–Weston and Davenport enough, if they really valued their members from those ridings, then they would also step up and make these promises….
Of course, we’ll support this motion. We support motherhood and apple pie too, I would say to the members from Davenport and York South–Weston. But you know what [we really want]? No buys for diesel. No buys at all for diesel: not four, not 12, not 18, not one. Not one diesel train do we want running through our communities, and nothing else will satisfy.
Albanese is certainly stuck in an odd position: her own party is giving her the cold shoulder, while the other parties are pushing her on.