MaRs buildings dominate election discussions

(Update) The provincial election campaign was dominated by a huge complex of old and new buildings in downtown Toronto today. They’re at the centre of new Conservative accusations — that the Liberal government is mired in a new — and expensive scandal.The complex of buildings at issue is called the MaRs Centre, standing for Medical and Related Sciences. The Conservatives started out by saying they would received leaked documents showing it was a government bailout of $317 million for the centre, at taxpayers’ expense. Their figures went over $1 billion today.Kathleen Wynne was in Burlington looking at much smaller buildings … birdhouses … built by Connor Withers and his dad Tim to raise money for the city’s Joseph Brant Hospital.Wynne used the expansion of the hospital as a backdrop for her announcement of a Liberal primary care guarantee … everyone will have access to a primary care provider by 2018.On the MaRs Centre, she said there is no final agreement on government funding for the centre, but the centre is a good thing.“Mars is a world-renowned centre of research and commercialization of innovation and technology,” said Wynne.PC leader Tim Hudak was campaigning at a fitness centre in Durham Region, and later spoke to business leaders in Toronto.“I say no to those secret gas plant and real estate deals so I can say yes to mental health services for our most vulnerable citizens,” said Hudak.He said his Million Jobs Plan would help business hire the disabled, and he attacked the government over the MaRs project.“This is like a Dalton McGuinty trick all over again and we just can’t afford any more of it.”The MaRs Centre is meant to bring together researchers with business people who could develop their inventions. But parts of the building are empty and the Tories say it went to the government for help.The conservatives are accusing the Liberals of a $317 million bailout, but say the cost could go much higher. They’re throwing out figures of a $1 billion or more.Hudak didn’t say where that billion-dollar figure is coming from, but stood by it.“This reminds me of the gas plant scandal where Kathleen Wynne and Dalton McGuinty said it was only $40 million, dont worry about it. And we learned that it was over a billion. They havent learned any lessons from that.”With the election being a close race between the Liberals and the Conservatives, it’s hard to say what kind of impact this Mars story and the new allegations of a scandal will have, or if the story’s going to stay in the headlines much longer, with the vote less two weeks away.

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