Even though he's leaving the political stage, Rick Bartolucci says he'll keep fighting for Sudbury through his still strong ties to the Kathleen Wynne's Liberal government.
“I plan on doing that,” Bartolucci said Monday. “I still have a pretty good reputation within the party, and with this particular government, and I plan on doing as much advocacy as I possibly can do.”
With the June 12 election, Sudbury and Nickel Belt are all held by NDP representatives, provincially and federally, leaving the city with no politicians on the government side for the first time in decades.
However, Wynne campaigned promising funding for the $125 million Maley Drive extension project, as well as completing four-laning Highway 69 to Toronto. While the promises were viewed by some as an attempt – that failed – to hold on to Sudbury for the Liberals, Bartolucci said Sudburians can expect both projects to proceed.
“Maley Drive was in the last budget -- I see no reason why it won't be in the next one,” he said. “The premier has repeatedly committed our government to the completion of Highway 69. So I am very, very optimistic about those two projects.”
Greater Sudbury Mayor Marianne Matichuk agrees, saying Wynne has committed to the projects, regardless of the local election results. The city has broken Maley into portions, she said, to make it easier to attract funding. The city is already applying for federal support through the Build Canada fund, Matichuk said.
“We're very excited,” she said. “We have our third, the province has promised their third, so we just want be sure the federal government will come in with their third.”
Joe Cimino, the former city councillor elected MPP for Sudbury June 12, says he has an intimate knowledge of the city's priorities, and will fight for them at Queen's Park. That they're not on the government side won't stop them, he said.
“When you have people like (Nickel Belt's) France Gélinas and other MPPs in the Northern Ontario, we're going down there as a force,” Cimino said.
“We're going to fight for what we need … Those are important projects for Sudbury, and so is our 10-year capital project plan for infrastructure -- for roads that already exist, and for the sewer and water underneath.”
Wynne has decided the Ontario Legislature will resume July 2, will an eye on reintroducing the budget that triggered the election, and one that includes funds for Maley and Highway 69. She'll have 58 MPPs, compared to the 28 for the official Opposition Tories, and 21 for the NDP.