There were union endorsements, farmer demands, and the promise of a national urban park.
The leaders of Ontario’s four major parties stayed relatively quiet ahead of the final provincial election debate Monday night, but other interested parties were making some noise.
The IBEW Construction Council of Ontario, representing electricians across Ontario, became the third major construction union to endorse the Progressive Conservative Party.
“Premier Ford has proven over the last four years that he not only supports and understands the needs of the electrical trades but has backed it up with positive and meaningful action that is unprecedented in our union’s history,” said IBEW executive James Barry, whose union represents approximately 18,000 members in various locals across Ontario.
A senior executive with the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LiUNA), which represents about 80,000 workers in Ontario, endorsed the PCs at the start of the election. Last week, the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, who build power plants and retrofit steel plants, also endorsed the Tories.
Ontario’s farmers didn’t make any endorsements on Monday, but urged voters to grill all candidates on their positions when it comes to supporting the province’s farming sector, preserving the province’s farmland and securing the agri-food supply chain from field to fork.
The Ontario Federation of Agriculture said there is a shortage of 29,000 workers in the province’s agricultural sector. That gap is growing, with job vacancies currently costing farmers about $1.5 billion in annual lost sales, the OFA said.
“Agriculture is one of Ontario’s main economic drivers, contributing more than $47 billion a year to the provincial economy and supporting close to one million jobs across the province,” the OFA said in a statement issued Monday.
Moving from farmland to parkland, the NDP on Monday committed to the transfer of a provincially-owned parcel of Windsor greenspace to Parks Canada to form one of Canada’s first urban national parks.
Windsor West incumbent Lisa Gretzky said that if her party forms a government, it would integrate the Ojibway Provincial Nature Reserve with the federal land that Transport Canada transferred to Parks Canada.
Last week, Ottawa pretty much guaranteed Windsor’s Ojibway Nature Complex will become a national urban park with the transfer of Ojibway Shores — along the Detroit River and currently zoned industrial — from Transport Canada to Parks Canada. The 33-acre property, the last stretch of natural shoreline within the city of Windsor, links the Great Lakes waterway to Ojibway, home to some of Canada’s rarest and most threatened plant and animal species.
“People in Windsor want and need green spaces in the city, and they’re excited at the prospect of this long-promised national park,” said Gretzky.