The Unbearable Lightweightedness of Glenn De Baeremaeker

Not to step on any Torontoist toes with our own year-end summary of local villainy but I cannot let 2014 go without commenting on what may be the pure essence of terrible, terrible governance. The very reason we cannot have nice things. Councillor Glenn De Baeremaeker, Ward 38 Scarborough Centre.


Now, I realize that may be something of outrageous claim in an environment where the likes of Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong has been elevated to a position of second in command at City Hall. Where Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti still roams free to be Giorgio. Where Ward 39 Scarborough-Agincourt actually downgraded from Mike Del Grande to Jim Karygiannis. Where a Councillor Ron Moeser is still a thing.

For me though, we have a handle on all of them. They represent the worst aspect of do-nothing, maintain the status quo municipal representation that is something of a legacy in these parts. Keep taxes low, roads clean and clear and let’s all pretend it’s the happy days of the 1950s. We get it.

Glenn De Baeremaeker, on the other hand, maintains the fresh-faced appearance of someone who just wants to help make everybody’s life better. From animals of all shapes and sizes to people of all ages and colours, he comes across as an impossibly more squeaky clean, naïve version of Howdy Doody. Wide-eyed. Congenial. All cowboy hale and hearty. Hey boys and girls! Who wants a subway?! We all want a subway!!


But by now we should know that Glenn De Baeremaeker is about nothing more than Glenn De Baeremaeker. He’s in it for himself first and foremost. Everything else is, well, collateral damage.

His latest assault on the proper functioning of City Hall came last week when he publicly mused about wanting another stop in his already unnecessary and entirely self-serving Scarborough subway extension of the Bloor-Danforth line. What’s the sense of having a new subway that many people can’t directly access, he wondered out loud, repeating a line of questioning most LRT proponents posed back during our last great transit debate. Or was it the second last? I honestly can’t remember.


Back then, you might recall, Councillor De Baeremaeker brushed aside the argument about building the best option for rapid transit in Scarborough for the most amount of people which clearly was the 7 stop LRT plan that the very same councillor fought for just 18 months earlier. No, no, no, he moaned. An LRT was 2nd-class transit being foisted on Scarborough by greedy downtowners luxuriating in their 1st-class subway rides. Ridership numbers could be massaged. Questionable route alignments justified. The point was, Scarborough deserved more subways. Deserved. Anything less would be a civic slap in the face.

It is at this point in the conversation when we pause and ask you to take two minutes and six seconds (via Himy Syed) to watch De Baeremaeker earnestly defend the choice of LRT for Scarborough transit users. Just to fully grasp how craven and bold-faced his pivot has been. How utterly despicable and unprincipled.

Of course, the councillor could not have performed such a feat of purely political machination solo. A Scarborough subway was also intended as the springboard to the mayor’s office for then TTC chair Karen Stintz. The provincial Liberals used the debate to shore up their eastern Toronto flank with a slew of pro-subway Scarborough MPPs and subway champion candidates heading into last spring’s general election.

The manoeuvre turned out particularly well for the governing Liberals. Not only were they returned to power with a healthy majority but they got the city to pitch in with money for capital spending on not one but two transit projects, the Scarborough subway and the new mayor’s campaign pet project, SmartTrack. What did the Liberal government give back in return? Absolutely nothing.


Councillor De Baeremaeker too was returned to office, easily re-elected to a 4th term, in a race nobody except the councillor and the Ford brothers thought he might lose. This mutual assured delusion served as the basis of De Baeremaeker’s cynical transformation from ardent LRT supporter to avid subway fanboy. He blanched in the face of their threatening bluster back when they were pushing for another Scarborough subway, this along Sheppard Avenue, took their robocalls to his residents seriously and instead of standing up for the right thing, he folded up his cards for the wrong reasons. His personal political self-interest.

Now, he wants more. Another station for his subway. Another $150-200 million dollars of capital costs, further increasing the city’s long term debt levels and jeopardizing the viability of other big ticket items like housing, say, or other transit projects in other areas of the city that are truly under-served by rapid transit. It’s as parochially pork planning as you can get, the very definition of it in fact. The councillor has nakedly utilised the politics of divisiveness, pitting one section of the city against another, ignoring the exigencies of built form while emphasizing unwarranted grievances, for no other reason than his own continued existence as a councillor.


It’s one thing to boldly revel in your disregard for your job as city councillor, to ignore the job of serving the most people to the best of your ability. Take a bow Deputy Mayor Minnan-Wong and Councillor Mammoliti. It just seems that much worse to mask your indifference to the concept with a contemptuous gesture of community building that is only really about a community of one, yourself.

How else to explain Councillor Glenn De Baeremaker’s 180-degree change of heart in just a matter of months, from LRT lover to subway demander with nothing more than a blink of political calculation? A builder of regional resentment instead of sound transit plans. For the sake of another 4 years in office, the councillor’s helped put a chokehold on the city’s capital expenditure budget for decades to come. A master stroke of self-interested posturing, an abject display of elected representation. Well done, Councillor De Baeremaeker. You are truly the worst.

— year endingly submitted by Cityslikr

8 Responses to The Unbearable Lightweightedness of Glenn De Baeremaeker

  1. torontopeter says:

    I watched those videos.
    This man is disgusting.
    How stupid can the people of Ward 38 be?
    I am so goddamn angry that this asshole is taking the rest of the city’s tax dollars *hostage* for his own bullshit job. FUCK!!!!!!!!

  2. Simon Says says:

    Wow, a politician who panders to his constituents! Or maybe just given what his constituents want.

  3. Lloyd Alter says:

    Tell us what you really think.

  4. Carol says:

    He was a subway lover for the 2.5 years that I lived in his ward (2005-2008), so it just depends which way the wind is blowing, I guess.

  5. torontopeter says:

    It’s a huge fucking problem that morons like the people who live in Ward 38 keep electing this guy, and then this guy holds the rest of the city’s tax dollars hostage with his bullshit transit plans. FUCK!!!!

  6. RogerB says:

    Agreed that DB will argue for any side if he thinks it will keep him in office.
    The plan to run express 4 kms past the most transit friendly part of the route never made sense. When realistic costs estimates come in, I wouldn’t be surprised if subway supporters start to consider lopping off the last stop. Besides, if Scarborough Councillors get their way there won’t be any Sheppard LRT to connect with anyway.
    The proposed ‘Scarborough Centre’ stop near the current McCowan station, is also in an awkward location, unless STC has plans to extend out to McCowan or improve the long walk through the parking lots.

  7. Ron Wm. Hurlbut says:

    When the bean counters talk about the number of people who would be using one form of transit or another they don’t talk about where those people would be coming from.

    The LRT would help Scarberians move around within Scarborough.

    The Stubway will serve people driving in from Markham and Pickering and parking at STC.

    The Big Parking Lot at STC which is right next to the 401 is exactly why they are pushing the Stubway option.

  8. GDB lost me waaaay back in 2011 when he was flying an inflatable Shark around the Council chambers during another of his “Pander for the People” gigs…

    It wasn’t in Council’s mandate to do anything about “Shark Fin” – and everyone knew that it would be over-turned by the Courts, but GDB still wasted hundreds of hours of Staff and Council time (plus the lawyers time/costs) to get his name in the paper….

    …but here’s the thing about being a craven, pandering politician. Voters seem to like that stuff at the Ballot-Box.

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