The leaders of Ontario's major political parties faced off over the highly contentious Highway 413 project during a prime-time debate Monday evening.
As became the theme for several talking points throughout the debate, Progressive Conservative Leader Doug Ford lined up in favour of the project, while Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca, NDP Leader Andrea Horwath and Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner all denounced it.
Schreiner called the project — which has not yet gone through a tendering process but is estimated to cost around $10 billion — both "fiscally irresponsible" and a "climate disaster" that would pave over farmland just to save drivers 30 seconds out of their daily commute.
"Let's build livable, affordable, connected communities where people can live, work and play close to home and close to the people they love," Schreiner said.
WATCH | Ontario leaders debate proposed Highway 413:
The proposed highway would run for some 60 kilometres across the northwestern part of the Greater Toronto Area, from Highway 400 at the northern edge of Vaughan to the interchange of highways 401 and 407 at the western limits of Brampton and Mississauga.
Ford and his Progressive Conservative Party have made the promise to build the new highway a key plank in their re-election bid, especially in the fiercely contested ridings in Peel and York regions.
During Monday night's debate, Ford attested that people in these areas want the highway, which he said would save people "a half hour each way" on their daily commutes.
"That's an hour you get to spend with your families," Ford said.
The Liberals, however, point to a 2017 panel report commissioned by the province that concluded the 413 would save just 30 seconds each way. That report was removed from the Ministry of Transportation's website after the 2018 election, but an archived version can still be found online.
Del Duca said Monday that the project "makes no sense whatsoever.
"It's not going to help you at all."
Horwath echoed that sentiment, calling building Highway 413 "the wrong thing to do.
"What we don't need is another massive highway to mansions that nobody can afford."