Sitting here, listening to city council debate a $10 million loan to MLSE for improvements to the current BMO soccer pitch, I am struck by, I don’t know, how many of our elected officials don’t really understand the role of government.
Now look. I’m as leery as the next guy about the public sector getting all hot and bothered with its private sector partners. Examples abound of the taxpayers, to use the parlance of the day, getting the short end of the stick. Hands up all those who remember the sordid tale of the Skydome?
It’s a delicate balance, obviously. The relationship is fraught with possible pitfalls and skullduggery. There’s also something of an imbalance. The private sector seeks profits while the public sector has broader goals in mind that aren’t always about the bottom line.
What business does the city have in getting involved with a bike sharing program, some ask. If a company can’t make a go of it on their own, the market decides. End of story.
On the other hand, it only makes sense to open up the agreement that would help Porter Airlines expand the island airport and start flying jets out of it. Why? All the economic benefits that would flow from it. Jobs. Tourists. Business.
What’s a few hundred million dollars in order to facilitate that? It’s an investment in the city, in the future. Isn’t that what government’s all about?
One day later, though, some of those same people found it impossible to contemplate a $10 million loan as part of a $120 million upgrade of a city owned asset that would also include improvements to nearby transit stops and infrastructure, paid for by the private sector. We shouldn’t be in the sports business, mused former budget chief and perpetual wet blanket, Councillor Mike Del Grande. It’s not about getting into the sports business, councillor. It’s not even about getting into any business. We’re just putting up a loan (with interest) to help improve a city owned ass—
Oh never mind. This is the guy who oversaw a $10+ billion annual budget? Why the hell am I trying to explain this to him?
I was going to continue on about how proper governing and city building shouldn’t be an ideological exercise but obviously this isn’t ideological. I don’t know what you’d call it. Nonsensical, maybe.
How can you argue in favour of expanding a waterfront airport that casts a cloud over future development there, with questionable economic benefits, and costs that will most assuredly amount to the hundreds of millions while calling a $10 million loan that will only increase the value of a city owned asset ‘corporate welfare’? Forget consistency. That’s a direct contradiction.
If you’re playing along at home, that’s thumbs up for Porter Air, no way, MLSE. As for Bixi and a bike sharing program? Is providing a relatively low cost form of public transit throughout the city really something City Hall should be involved with?
If there’s a unifying theme running through this line of reasoning, it seems to be, Don’t look to government for handouts. There’s no such thing as a free lunch. Unless there is and then it’s like, hey, we’re all Keynesians here.
It’s not so much consistency I’m looking for but just some actual evidence that the people we elect to office have even the most basic concept of what it is we elected them to do.
— mystifiedly submitted by Cityslikr