Liberal campaign promises to repay city for costs of event at train yard

The Ontario Liberal party is covering the extra costs OC Transpo incurred to host leader Kathleen Wynne, several Liberal candidates and journalists for a campaign appearance Thursday morning.

Leaders and groups of candidates often use public buildings for campaign events when they’re touting promises related to what goes on there. Health announcements are in or near hospitals and clinics, education announcements at schools, and in this case a transit-policy announcement at Ottawa Walkley Yard train-maintenance facility. Wynne and local Liberal candidates rode into the shop in an O-Train that had been parked outside, operated by an OC Transpo driver.

Ottawa’s general policy is to let campaigns host events at public facilities as long as they don’t get in the way and the candidates cover the costs.

An OC Transpo special constable minded the gate to the yard and a handful of workers looked on during Wynne’s short speech and question period. The yard superintendent gave a safety briefing before letting the journalists into the building; he said the Liberal special was the only train movement planned that morning.

The entire thing took about an hour.

“Any direct or indirect costs incurred by OC Transpo are being paid in full by the Ontario Liberal Party,” campaign spokesperson Andrea Ernesaks said by email afterward.

The city couldn’t say by mid-afternoon what costs there might have been.

Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath greets supporters at a campaign event in St. Catharines, Ont. on Thursday, May 17, 2018.

New Democratic Party leader Andrea Horwath made transit-policy announcements Thursday at a city subway station in Toronto and a provincial GO-Train station in St. Catharines. Progressive Conservative leader Doug Ford has had fewer events at public facilities but has held photo-ops at a fire station in Tay Township on Georgian Bay and at a hospital in Etobicoke.

Ontario Progressive Conservative Leader Doug Ford talks to staff during a campaign stop at Etobicoke General Hospital in Toronto on Thursday, May 10, 2018.

In 2014, Ford’s predecessor Tim Hudak had a bad campaign day when he invited reporters to join him on a subway ride to a campaign event without running it by the Toronto Transit Commission first. The TTC doesn’t allow politicians to canvass on its property and forbids professional video recordings without permission. Hudak bailed after efforts to sort the situation out held up the train for 10 minutes.

dreevely@postmedia.com
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