Harper Conservatives’ “demolition program” in Pickering revealed – hot local election issue

AJAX-PICKERING – By giving notice of 60 more demolitions in north Pickering, the Harper Conservatives have made large-scale demolitions on the federal lands a major local issue during the current federal election campaign.

In a letter to Pickering City Council, Transport Canada revealed the Conservatives’ massive “demolition program”, adding sixty new addresses of structures to be torn down to a list of 42 structures first revealed last summer. The letter is dated March 22, the week that the Harper Conservative government fell for being found in contempt of Parliament for hiding the true cost of billions in spending on jails, jets and corporate tax cuts.

Mark Holland, the incumbent Liberal candidate for Ajax-Pickering, denounced the demolition program and theHarper Conservative record on the federal lands.

“Make no mistake – their self-described demolition program is but one component of the Harper Conservativeagenda to ramp up efforts to depopulate our lands and destroy everything on them in order to make way for aggressive development,” warned Holland. “This caps five years of Conservative mismanagement of the federal lands and disrespect for the concerns of the local community which continues to be shut out of decision-making.”

Pickering Regional Councillor Peter Rodrigues, who released the letter to constituents, points out that the letter shows Transport Canada’s blunt refusal to cover costs associated with protecting and restoring buildings identified by the community as possessing heritage value.

“TC should not be allowed to shirk its responsibilities to pay for protecting heritage-listed homes,” said Rodrigues, “After all, these buildings are all victims of deliberate and systematic neglect by TC over decades.”

Further concern was raised that the structures may not all be vacant. Copies of TC’s letter were circulated at an all candidates debate held last night in Claremont, at which one unidentified woman was overheard by other attendees saying that her home was on the demolition list.

“If true, this represents an all time low for this Conservative government,” warned Holland. “it’s one thing to demolish boarded up structures they let go to ruin, it’s quite another to plot the demolition of the homes of families now.”

Holland vows to investigate allegations of evictions.

“The Harper Conservatives don’t get it – they won’t win in a community they’re trying to bulldoze down.”

Since first being elected MP in 2004, Holland has fought the airport, getting commitments from the previous Liberal government to stop evictions and demolitions and commit to holding an airport needs assessment study. These commitment were  trampled upon by the Harper Conservatives since 2006.

In July 2010, Holland secured a commitment from Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff to oppose an airport – the first ever such commitment by a leader of a major political party.

To view TC’s letter, please go to: www.markholland.ca

For more information:
Karl Maretic
Mark Holland Campaign 2011