Transit Defiled

“If 30 members of council want to sign a petition to call a special meeting to raise taxes on the backs of citizens who can’t afford them, that will be the first campaign poster for the mayor’s 2014 campaign.” Mark Towhey, Chief of Staff, Mayor Ford.


For a bunch of reasons, the 2014 municipal campaign can’t come soon enough for me. But mostly I’m just eager for this angle to play out. Mayor Ford, steadfast in his respect for taxpayers, refuses to so much as even discuss options for transit expansion.

“I promised taxpayers I’d keep their taxes low. I kept their taxes low.”emptypromise

“You also promised taxpayers subways,” counters a hypothetical opponent. “Subways, subways, subways.”

“City Council refused to let me build a subway. It’s their fault.”

“But you had 3 years [four years by the time the campaign rolls around] to come up with a plan to build subways. Where is it?”

“The private sector. P3s. P3s. The private sector. The private sector. Did I say, ‘P3s’? P3s. The private sector. The people want subways. Subways, subways, subways.”

Maybe Mark Towhey and the rest of the Team Ford brain trust are really, truly salivating at the prospect of running a re-election campaign on the mayor’s bread-and-butter issue of low taxes but the ground has shifted considerably since 2010. This time he won’t just be running against some easily smearable, downtown tax-and-spender. In his determined digging in of his heels and holding his breath until the transit conversation loses steam or Tim Hudak is elected premier, Mayor Ford is painting himself into a sad, lonely political corner with only the Toronto Sun holdmybreath(and maybe not even the Sun based on today’s transit talk with columnist Sue-Ann Levy) to keep him warm.

His continued transit funding intransigence (as a matter of fact, yes, I did have to go there) has left Mayor Ford running against not just a majority of his city council but the Toronto Board of Trade. John Tory and the CivicAction Alliance. Hazel McCallion and almost every other elected official in the 905 region. Hardly a left-leaner among them.

There is a significant difference between a lone wolf howling at the moon and a crazy person shouting the same thing over and over again on a street corner.

In the hopes of riding an anti-tax wave back into office next year, the mayor will have to cross his fingers that voters and his opponents will forget some of the other stuff he promised and claimed in 2010, and not just subways. The city didn’t have a revenue problem, remember? It had a spending problem. Yet, he’s spent considerable political capital pushing for a downtown casino because all of the revenue it would generate for the city.

Oh, I see. The city doesn’t have a tax revenue problem. It’s the other type of revenue we’re a little short on.fingerscrossed

Expect a boatload of that kind of semantic hair-splitting going forward.

Mayor Ford’s also revived his 2010 campaign idea of cutting our way to a better city by joining the empty chorus of finding efficiencies experts who insist a little belt tightening will pop out the loose change we need to build whatever it is we want. Short on details, of course. Long on vague pandering populism.

Ditto the whole boondoggle angle being embraced by those trying to fend off new taxes. Add up your eHealths and your ORNGEs and your gas plants and your PRESTO fiascos, and you’re still well short of the funds needed to build the proposed transit. That’s not to condone these trip ups or simply shrug them off. Of course, there’s a huge trust issue with handing over more money for another major public infrastructure endeavour to a government whose track record in matters of oversight is somewhat sketchy. It still doesn’t mean doing nothing about congestion and our woeful lack of regional transit.

But that’s the thing.

Mayor Ford is simply looking for any excuse to do nothing on the transit file. The thought of actually doing something runs counter to every political instinct in his body. robfordstreetcarsOutside of public safety, the government isn’t supposed to do anything. Certainly not if it means disrupting traffic flow or demanding drivers pay more for the privilege right to drive their vehicles.

While Team Ford disavowed any attachment to it back in 2010, it is very telling to read through the mayor’s chief of staff’s views on public transit and the TTC back in the day. (Captured for posterity by Steve Munro, and brought to our attention by yesterday by Jude MacDonald.) In short it reads: stop funding the TTC, sell off the assets and let the market decide how people get around the city.

Since coming to office, has Mayor Ford done anything in terms of transit that has been less indifferent than the attitude his chief of staff displayed three years ago? So why would we expect him to change now? Of course, he’s fighting tooth and nail against new revenue tools for transit expansion. He doesn’t give a shit about transit.

So Team Ford has to do its best to frame this as a pitched battle to keep taxes low because the flipside of that debate – government shouldn’t be involved in actually governing – is unwinnable. shellgameThe mayor and those planning his re-election campaign seem to believe people will be content enough with the notion that their taxes have been kept low to return him to office. Moreover, voters will be ready to punish any councillor who even so much as raised the possibility of new taxes.

At this juncture, it seems more like wishful thinking than any sort of sound strategy. But that’s really all this administration’s ever been about, isn’t it.

bay of fund it all readily submitted by Cityslikr

12 Responses to Transit Defiled

  1. “If 30 members of council want to sign a petition to call a special meeting to raise taxes on the backs of citizens who can’t afford them, that will be the first campaign poster for the mayor’s 2014 campaign.” Mark Towhey, Chief of Staff, Mayor Ford.

    If Rob Ford really wants to have that debate, if he really thinks that it will make him look good and his opponents look bad, then why did he defer the report? Why didn’t he ask that it be debated as soon as possible?

    • Patrick Smyth says:

      Rob Ford doesn’t want to have that debate. He wants others to be seen as the instigators of new taxes. His supporters don’t want to pay more taxes. He wouldn’t look good encouraging the turkeys to look forward to Christmas.

    • Sonny says:

      Geoff; when 2/3rds of council vote to reopen the matter it will give the City a chance to have a say despite the Towhey threat & Ford campaigning!

  2. Patrick Smyth says:

    Ford beat well-connected downtown elites and lofty-lefties in 2010. Who will he be running against next time around? Without knowing that, it’s only wishful thinking that he might be defeated.

    Ford’s strategy seems sound enough this time around too. He will be able to say he did not wish for extra taxes, they are being imposed by the OLP and hurried-on by his political opponents.

    I’d say Ford is showing quite a bit of political acumen these days.

  3. cranberry says:

    Patrick, does political acumen mean avoiding doing anything that might impact your chances of being elected, or does it mean actually doing the job you were elected to do?

    If he wants to be re-elected by not doing his job, there is something wrong with this picture.

  4. Simon Says says:

    I’m celebrating my love for you with a pint of beer and a new tattoo.

  5. Patrick Smyth says:

    The picture is very wrong. The Circus under the Dome is dysfunctional. It has been in election mode since Stintz flip-flopped on Ford. She wasn’t elected to feather hew own nest. She wasn’t elected to further her career. She hasn’t done her job since 2007 when she first got the notion that she would run for the mayoralty position. That scenario is being played-out in a number of Wards.

    Based on what I see and hear, Ford has been steady in his message, one that he can carry into the next election quite comfortably. To many of the electorate he appears to be doing his job. That’s political acumen.

    I think you are referring to the EC decision not to put new taxes on the Council Agenda. That’s not his job, and it’s not what he was elected to do.

    Ford probably does not want TO Council to give the OLP any room to hide. The Provincial Government controls the City and wants to impose additional taxes on Ontarians. We’re spending big bucks funding MetroLinx to sort out transit on a regional basis. It is the job of the OLP and Metrolinx to tell us what taxes are to be levied. They should get on with their job.

    In future they should take a closer interest in the needs of Toronto because the TO Council is too busy being a Circus and there’s a whole lot of work not being done.

    Like, getting 156,000 Toronto residents more Affordable Housing.

  6. Kate Roberts says:

    @ Patrick

    *insert picture of Jean Luc Picard Face Palm here*

    You are everything that is wrong with this city – go away and take your stupidity with you.

  7. Patrick Smyth says:

    @Kate is it that Toronto has a need for another 156,000 affordable housing units that you don’t like? Or, is it just that you don’t like other people commenting?

    Or, are you just another one of the rude, crude trolls on this site?

    You know, the ones who probably think they are clever and want to show it with their witty one-liners.

    • Kate says:

      @Patrick – I’m tired of people like you spewing your rhetoric and misinforming people, or in this case misdirecting them from the issue at hand – which is what your doing by bringing up affordable housing, which I am NOT against – but it’s not what’s being discussed here – you might as well take the same stance as your boy Ford and start listing off provincial issues to distract people some more, here I’ll help you: ORNGE!!! GAS PLANTS!!! OVERPAID TEACHERS!!! BOONDOOGLE!!!

      • Patrick Smyth says:

        @Kate you get into a rage because I expose Vaughan, Perks, Davis, Carroll, Fletcher, McConnell, Augimeri for killing affordable housing, yet you claim to NOT be against it?

        One line in the whole post gets your knickers in a twist! You’re not logical. I don’t pander, and maybe that’s what is confusing you.

        I’m commenting which is something I would encourage you to do. All too often I’ve seen your style of bullying and it doesn’t help.

        Instead of being all aggressive, why not give us some of your thoughts on why Ford did the right, or wrong, thing by deferring?

        How’s about a comment on what you think of Adam Vaughan always touting affordable housing for his community but killing it for other communities? I mean, you’re all for it, right?

      • cityslikr says:

        Dear Mr. Smyth,

        A couple weeks ago we here at All Fired Up in the Big Smoke offered you space on this site to post a fully detailed account of your affordable housing claim. We wanted specifics, i.e., dates, links to the votes and other stories that verified what you’ve been stating here, over and over, ad nauseum.

        So far, you have failed to take us up on that offer, choosing instead to remain on the sidelines, casting what still amounts to baseless assertions.

        If you continue to do so, we will have no choice but to treat you for what you seem happy to act as: a commenter troll who does nothing but muddy the waters of discourse with innuendo, unsubstantiated tales and just plain ol’ nonsense chatter.

        Please try engaging others in a constructive manner.

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