Jamie Smith, tbnewswatch.com
Glen Murray, Michael Gravelle and Bill Mauro announce the continuation of highway twinning between Thunder Bay and Nipigon.
What Ontario Liberals call an important announcement opponents are calling an unnecessary fear tactic.
Liberal Infrastructure Minister Glen Murray accompanied incumbent candidates and fellow party members Bill Mauro and Michael Gravelle, running for re-election in Thunder Bay-Atikokan and Thunder Bay-Superior North respectively, at the Terry Fox Monument Thursday.
The trio held a news conference at the iconic site to announce that two more sections of Hwy 11/17 between Thunder Bay and Nipigon would be twinned.
But the Liberals warn that these projects, which were included in the Liberal government's spring budget, are in jeopardy.
"I was very disappointed that indeed among other things that part of the budget by not being supported and an election taking place put the project at risk," Gravelle said.
"Our party is committed to four-laning the highway between Thunder Bay and Nipigon. I'm not so sure the other parties feel the same way."
But NDP rival and Thunder Bay-Superior North candidate Andrew Foulds called the announcement disappointing, accusing the government of using fear tactics to scare voters.
The electorate deserves more credit than that, he added.
"They don't' want their government to rely on fear. They don't want their politicians to rely on fear. They're looking for something better. They're looking for hope."
The NDP, which released its platform Thursday, has committed to widening 60 kilometres of highway in the province every year, with at least 30 of those kilometres in the North.
"How much road have (the Liberals) actually done in 10 years?" Foulds asked. "Fewer than 20 kilometres."
At the news conference, Mauro said the Liberals want to invest $14 billion in infrastructure across the province. They also want to see a decade-long commitment to Northern highways, which the Liberals say has already been $5 billion, continue.
"We need their support to continue with the advancement of this work," Mauro said of voters.
Thunder Bay-Atikokan Progressive Conservative candidate Harold Wilson said a lot of that money was used for highway projects in the Muskokas.
While he commends the Liberals for twinning the highway between Thunder Bay and Nipigon, the project has already been announced. There's no reason to keep making announcements on it.
"That's great but we would expect those things, I mean you don't leave a job half done," Wilson said.
As for his party's commitment to finishing the highway if in government, Wilson said it would be hard to imagine not seeing it through.
"So much of the work has already been done. I would be pushing to have that carried through," he said.
Murray said he and other provincial transportation ministers have been lobbying the federal government to match provinces when it comes to funding highways.
"If the federal government matched this we would probably have this done in a decade," he said.
Ontario has a stark choice to make whether it wants to see investment in Northern highways, he added.