One could almost feel sorry for Ontario’s opposition leader, Tim Hudak, if such a human emotion existed, so I’ll try as best I can to fake it.
A day after he swings by Toronto’s Board of Trade to bash the city as a place in decline where something has gone off the rails, the Conference Board of Canada releases its 2013 Metropolitan Outlook report that doesn’t paint as bleak a picture of Toronto’s economic situation as Mr. Hudak would like us to believe. But maybe that kind of bad timing happens regularly to him. If you travel around just talking nonsense and shit all the time, you probably get used to the egg on your face.
Besides, in all likelihood Hudak’s speech Wednesday afternoon wasn’t really targeting the local audience. With no 416 MPPs in his caucus and very little promise of scoring one any time soon, the goal was to come to town, piss on the furniture and get your sound bites in place to use in the rest of the province in a desperate bid to divide and conquer. Yeah. That Toronto, man. A living hellhole. We give and give and give and give, and it still sucks. Sucks and is ungrateful. Elect me, Tim Hudak, as your premier and I will go to Queen’s Park and put Toronto in its place!
We’re not talking the rosiest of rosy forecasts here. The Conference Board’s report predicts Toronto’s economic growth at a very modest 2.8% but it still would be the biggest bump east of the prairies and a bounce from last year’s dip. And despite Mr. Hudak’s rhetoric that people and businesses are taking a pass on setting up shop here, the facts suggest otherwise.
“[Peter Viducis, manager of economic research at the city of Toronto] also pointed to recent growth in demand for office space in downtown Toronto,” Vanessa Lu writes in the Toronto Star, “including companies like Telus, Google, and SNC Lavalin, wanting to set up operations here. In the past, Toronto was losing out to office complexes in the 905, but more companies are seeking out the downtown.”
Apparently, the reports of Toronto’s economic decline have been greatly exaggerated by politicians looking to stir up discord, anger and resentment.
This relatively positive outlook is also of little help to the Ford administration not only because it can’t claim much credit for it – which is true generally at the municipal level – but it also kind of undercuts their whole duck-and-cover strategy for budgeting. All their cutting operating costs and paying down capital debt in order to build some sort of rainy day slush fund seems Chicken Little-ish. The sky isn’t falling, is it.
If Ford & Co were truly interested in running City Hall like a business, now would be something of a go-time. Credit’s still remarkably cheap. Unemployment rates locally are still stubbornly high. Stuff needs to be fixed, expanded. The time seems ripe to bolster those aspects of this city that continue to draw people and businesses to it. Increase mobility. Increase affordability. Increase liveability.
But we know running this place like a business is nothing more than empty rhetoric. It’s always been about cutting government down to size. So we are spun speculative fiction, much like the opposition leader’s Board of Trade speech, that is ultimately exposed as having little relationship to the facts on the ground.
It takes a special kind of person to consistently fly in the face of reality. A gaggle of them are at the helm currently at City Hall, misguiding the local ship of state. Tim Hudak wants to operate likewise at Queen’s Park but, unfortunately for him, he seems unable to outrun the truth.
– sceptically submitted by Cityslikr