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McGuinty vows to bring back rent controls

Liberal Leader uses Bill 96 to condemn Conservatives' 'mean-spirited' policies

Globe and Mail - Saturday, May 22, 1999
by Jane Coutts - Queen's Park Bureau

Toronto -- Liberal Leader Dalton McGuinty used the issue of rent control yesterday as his weapon to attack Progressive Conservative Leader Mike Harris.

"Tenants are another in a lengthy series of people of this province who have been overlooked and abused by Mike Harris," he told reporters as a gaggle of Liberal candidates stood by.

Although restoring rent control merits only one line toward the end of the Liberal campaign platform, Mr. McGuinty spoke at some length of the burden that removing it has placed on tenants.

There are 3.3 million tenants in Ontario, Mr. McGuinty said, and the Conservatives' Bill 96, which maintains rent controls as long as a tenant stays in an apartment but then permits landlords to set whatever rent they want for the next tenant, is hurting them badly.

"We will bring back rent controls. . . . We understand the importance of giving people who happen to rent their homes some sense of confidence."

Unusually for Mr. McGuinty, he did not argue that there was a greater economic good to be had from protecting tenants, nor did he bring up the theme -- that has dominated his campaign so far -- during a speech to the Rotary Club of Toronto at lunch time.

Instead, he focused on the idea of extending to others the privileges he has enjoyed. Both his parents, he told a much quieter and less partisan audience than he faced Thursday at the Empire Club, came from hard-up families and they had little money for their 10 children.

But he and all his brothers and sisters did well all the same, thanks largely to public health care and public education.

That, he later told reporters, is why he's in politics.

Although he stayed low-key and seemed tired through much of the speech, Mr. McGuinty still had plenty of energy for attacks on Mr. Harris.

"With privilege comes responsibility. My responsibility is to stop Mike Harris. Our province is more mean-spirited today, less caring today, and there are fewer opportunities for our young . . .," he said.

In other developments, a Toronto Star-CTV poll released last night put the Conservatives in the lead with 46-per-cent of decided voters, followed by the Liberals at 35 per cent and the NDP at 17.

When asked in the poll by Ekos Research who won this week's leaders debate, 45 per cent said Mr. Harris, 8 per cent said Mr. McGuinty, and 21 per cent gave the victory to NDP Leader Howard Hampton.

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