Ed Holder opposes bus rapid transit during London mayoral campaign launch

Ed Holder officially launched his mayoral campaign at Innovation Works Thursday. Liny Lamberink/980 CFPL

A political heavyweight has officially launched his effort to become London’s next mayor.

Former Conservative MP Ed Holder made the official announcement at Innovation Works Thursday, where he also addressed what is likely to become the most-discussed issue during the city’s municipal election.

READ MORE: Former MP Ed Holder to run for mayor of London

“I cannot support the current BRT plan,” he declared.

“It will cost half a billion dollars, of which virtually all the funds will be used to assist the small percentage of daily users who use the bus.”

He cited 10 years worth of “traffic headaches” for people who drive throughout the city, permanent lane reductions, and how the plan doesn’t meet the city plan’s vision of being “exciting, exceptional, and connected.”

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“While the best of the world is exploring clean energy, self-driving vehicles, and higher technology that open up unlimited mobility options for everyone, we’d end up in 10 years with fixed technology with limited flexibility.”

Holder is joining a crowded field of more than a dozen mayoral candidates. Among them are Ward 13 Coun. Tanya Park who supports bus rapid transit, former police service board member Paul Paolatto who has said he doesn’t support the plan as is, and businessman Paul Cheng who has come out against the project.

READ MORE: London to vote by ranked ballot in next municipal election

While Holder has no previous municipal government experience, he has extensive experience at the federal level. Holder was first elected federally in London West in 2008, unseating longtime Liberal MP Sue Barnes by 2,100 votes. He easily won re-election in 2011 and was named Minister of State for Science and Technology in 2014 before he was defeated in the 2015 election by current Liberal MP Kate Young.

When asked how he’d appeal to a broader demographic of London voters, Holder said he prided himself in his ability to work across parties during his time in office “to work for a greater cause, not a partisan position.”

He also noted some of the principals that have guided his vision for London.

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“If you work a little bit harder, then you should be able to keep a little bit more. And that we have an obligation as a caring community to offer a handout to those who are less able to take care of themselves,” he said.

READ MORE: London deputy mayor Paul Hubert won’t run for re-election in 2018

Holder is the 13th person to join London’s mayoral race. He said he’ll be finalizing his platform before advance polls open in September.

Following his election defeat in 2015, Holder worked to promote trade between Canada and Saudi Arabia and was the first chairperson of the Canada-Saudi Business Council.

Before entering politics he was the president of Stevenson & Hunt Insurance Brokers and served on the board of the London Chamber of Commerce. Holder has a long history of community service, running the Business Cares Food Drive and volunteering with the Rotary Club of London, the United Way, St. John Ambulance and co-chairing the annual Rockin’ New Year’s Eve event in Victoria Park.

Londoners go to the polls Oct 22.

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