May 11

What does the Mayor want from the Federal Government?

So the federal election happened. I’m over it. Municipal politics are way more fun and important anyway. How interesting can a government chamber be when you always know how everyone is going to vote?

But before we can move on, we’ve got to acknowledge the Ford Nation, and whatever impact it is they had in Monday night’s outcome.

Here’s what Doug Ford, presumably speaking for his brother, had to say about the results:

“What is good for Toronto is good for Canada,” Ford said Tuesday, adding that for the first time in a long time, Toronto will have a say in the federal government.

“We have a friendly voice in Ottawa right now,” he said. “We never had a voice in Ottawa for a number of years…we have numerous strong voices now to represent us in Toronto and Ottawa knows we are going to be a strong voice coming from Toronto now.

“It’s always nice to be able to pick up the phone and have a direct line to Ottawa, day in and day out.”

via Election good for Toronto, Councillor Ford says | Decision 2011 | News | Toronto Sun.

Okay — but what is it that the Ford Brothers want from the federal government? The line in the endorsement was about the Public-Private Partnership Infrastructure fund, but that at most represents a $300 million dollar commitment and isn’t going to be anything close to the magic bullet the city needs to actually make this Sheppard subway extension happen.

So what is it? What should the federal government do for Toronto? Ford had a laundry list of demands for the provincial government earlier this year. And other mayors across Canada have certainly made it clear they need more direct funding for infrastructure.

But so far Toronto’s mayor hasn’t asked the prime minister for much more than a handshake. He voted against sending a letter to the federal government that would condemn cuts to immigration services in Toronto, something that negatively impacts thousands of people, including many who supported Ford. At the last council meeting, the mayor was one of a group of five councillors to vote against asking the federal government to provide support to businesses who suffered damage or lost business during the G20 weekend.

If the mayor is so sure that Prime Minister Stephen Harper is going to be good for Toronto, he needs to define what “good for Toronto” is. It has to be more than token support for a P3 subway line and the meagre funding the city gets from the gas tax.

We’re facing an 800 million dollar hole in our operating budget next year and our combined capital budget requirement for transit and other infrastructure over the next decade totals into the tens of billions of dollars. Surely the federal government — who receive more than 50 cents of every tax dollar you pay — can do something about that.

Wouldn’t that be good for Toronto?