Metrolinx defends ads during NFL games, opposition declares them offside

Watch the video above: Metrolinx spends $230,000 in recent ad blitz that critics call partisan. Alan Carter reports. 

TORONTO – Metrolinx spent $227,000 for its most recent ad buy that included spots during the NFL’s AFC and NFC championship games on Sunday.

Last year, the government agency responsible for transit planning spent $924,000 on advertisements.

The opposition parties aren’t happy but the agency contends educating the public is part of the Metrolinx mandate.

“We’re advertising not only Metrolinx but we’re advertising the public transit building that’s going on,” Metrolinx spokesperson Anne-Marie Aikens said in an interview Monday.

“They have this notion that there is just nothing happening on the public transit file, that there is no building, that everybody just argues about it all the time. We have actually $16 billion in projects underway.”

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Metrolinx is currently building several projects across the GTA including the Eglinton Crosstown LRT, the Toronto-York Spadina subway extension and the Union Pearson Express.

Watch the Metrolinx advertisement below:

But the advertisements pointing out exactly what Metrolinx is doing reeks of politicking, to NDP MPP Cheri DiNovo.

“They’re politicking. This isn’t about information, this is politicking,” she said. “They are trying to sell something to the public, that’s not what we pay our government agencies for.”

While campaigning in Thornhill along with Liberal candidate Sandra Yeung Racco Monday, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne made several overtures about the Liberal government’s commitment to transit:

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When asked about the advertisements Monday, Wynne said transit and infrastructure are “critical” in building the Ontario economy.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that the people of Ontario need to know what it is Metrolinx is doing, what Metrolinx is, how it functions and that’s what the public information campaign would be about,” she said.

Aikens echoed the premier, saying the advertisements used to inform the public are designed to be non-partisan.

“We have a responsibility to constituents throughout the GTHA to ensure that they know what we’re doing,” she said. “We aren’t just a bureaucratic level.”

But the Tories say “actions speak louder than words.”

“I don’t think people need to know how well Metrolinx is doing, I think Metrolinx has an obligation to show the people of Ontario how well they are doing, telling them isn’t enough,” Barrie MPP Rod Jackson said.

With files from Alan Carter 

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