Posts Tagged: mike harris


9
Mar 12

Forget building transit, let’s just talk endlessly and yell at each other

All Fired Up In the Big Smoke’s Daren Foster, who attended a transit town hall put on by the Toronto Taxpayers Coalition  in Scarborough last night:

Nearly two and a half hours later, we were pretty much right back where we started. People wanted subways. People were owed subways. World class cities have subways. Scarborough demanded their piece of that transit dream.

But there was no one there to tell them how that could happen. It was all vague notions, untested theories and a whole lot pie in the sky projections. I’d be plenty pissed too. I just think the crowd turned their ire on the wrong target.

Which wasn’t their fault in the least. The real target wasn’t in the room. He’d skipped the meeting, encouraging the anger while sidestepping any responsibility for it.

via Seething In Scarborough « All Fired Up In The Big Smoke.

For OpenFile Toronto, David Hains covers more of the details. The short version: unrealistic promises and mostly fact-free rhetoric has whipped up some Scarborough residents into a frenzy. The prospect of light rail transit is the hated villain, while Rob Ford’s subway dream stands as the hero.

After the meeting, Sun columnist Sue-Ann Levy — adding credibility to the proceedings by serving as a panelist — summed up the mood with a tweet: “Scarborough residents would prefer NOTHING, NADA, over light rail transit.”

There seems to be an unconscious desire from some in this debate to return to the transit planning status quo that existed prior to 2007 and the announcement of Transit City and MoveOntario 2020. During that time, the TTC continuously drew and redrew subway lines on various maps. They bounced through Network 2011 and RTES and other plans that promised a whole lot of subway construction. Sometimes politicians would make election-time promises that they would build pieces of whatever plan was on the books at the time.

But even though the city stuck with this subways-to-the-suburbs strategy for decades, very little happened.

It was only through Mel Lastman’s relentless enthusiasm for North York that we got a 5.5 kilometre subway line on Sheppard Ave, and that’s proven to have had a net negative impact on TTC operations. The city will be subsidizing it for decades.

The city did come close to getting an Eglinton subway, but Premier Mike Harris infamously filled in the already-dug hole, scuttling the line as a budget-saving measure. And while that was undoubtedly a mistake, it’s worth noting that, by the time Eglinton got canned, the only part of the plan funded was a stubby five-station line running from Eglinton West station to York Civic Centre.

Had Harris not stopped construction, the mourned Eglinton subway could have made for a similar story as what we’ve seen on Sheppard: a too-short, under-utilized line requiring huge annual subsidy. With no money to pay for an extension.

The city had to shift its focus away from subways and toward LRTs not because of some ill-defined ideology but because the subways-first strategy was a complete and utter failure. It was all talk and no action.

And now, in Scarborough and other parts of the city, we’re seeing what looks like angry demands to return to that. Despite the raucous demand for subways coming out of last night’s meeting, the prospect of new taxes or revenue tools were roundly shot down. For subways, there’s talking – and yelling! – but no plan. No action. No money.

Save our Gordon Chongs

Speaking of things for which there is no plan and no money, it turns out the mayor isn’t going to pay Dr. Gordon Chong and the other consultants who worked on his Sheppard Subway report.

The Toronto Star’s Royson James:

First, they didn’t take Gordon Chong’s advice on how to pay for the Sheppard Subway. Now they won’t pay him.

And consultants the ex-city councillor hired to make the case for Mayor Rob Ford’s subway dreams are owed $80,000 they may never collect.

That’s the bankrupt state of the TTC subsidiary Mayor Ford created to promote his subway plan.

via TTC subway study ran out of money, Gordon Chong and consultants still owed more than $100,000 | Toronto Star.

Sometimes analogies are too obvious.


5
Oct 11

Ford stays out of provincial race as Ford Nation goes up in smoke

The Toronto Sun’s Don Peat:

Days before the May federal election, Ford came out endorsing Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the federal Conservatives.

But Ford won’t be throwing his support behind Progressive Conservative Tim Hudak, NDP Leader Andrea Horwath or Liberal Dalton McGuinty

“There are no plans to,” Adrienne Batra, the mayor’s press secretary, told the Sun.

Batra did not provide Ford’s reason for staying out of this race.

via Ford staying out of provincial election | News | Ontario Votes | More | Toronto Sun.

Here’s the reason: he’s unpopular.

That Ford didn’t endorse Tim Hudak — the only guy he would ever endorse — is the clearest sign yet that the mayor is aware of his declining popularity. This inaction speaks louder than any poll. Rob Ford knows he doesn’t have the ability to help Hudak in the polls in the 416.

Don’t get me wrong: Ford staying out of the race is the right move. He would have been right to stay out of the federal race too — there really was no personal upside to his endorsement, as Harper promised little for Toronto — but that didn’t stop him. The mayor’s desire to endear himself to the provincial and federal Conservative parties is strong. He didn’t hang that picture of Mike Harris in his office for nothing, nor was it coincidental that Stephen Harper ate barbecue at Ford’s mother’s house over the summer. The Fords seem thrilled to be back in the good graces of the conservative political machine that once rejected them.

Ford’s silence on the provincial race — which, I have to assume, came because the powers-that-be decided his endorsement wouldn’t help anybody — is further proof that, if Rob Ford’s ascension was representative of any kind of political sea change, it was only a fleeting one. A brief, weird moment in time where Toronto collectively rolled the dice on a fascinating, one-of-a-kind politician, who spent his campaign tooling around the city in a (maybe improperly paid for) massive RV, telling everyone he could lower their taxes while maintaining their services.

Election night on October, 25, 2010 was not a massive rightward shift for Toronto. It was not the dawn of some great Ford Nation that holds sway over other orders of government beyond the City of Toronto’s borders. It was just an unlikely man winning an unconventional election in uncertain times.

That doesn’t mean that Ford couldn’t take a second term, of course. Just that, come 2014, the incumbent candidate will have to be a different Rob Ford, running on different terms, telling us something new.