Despite the Liberals committing close to $1.4 billion for the subway in Scarborough, Mayor Ford is out on the campaign trail with PC candidate Ken Kirupa claiming that Liberals don’t back subways and dismissing Mitzie Hunters claim of being a subway champion as a “bunch of malarky.”
The issue comes down to who to believe? As far as I know Mr. Kirupa does not smoke crack, does not hang out with drug dealers, but like Mayor Ford he claims to want subways although he has never been part of the push for subways in Toronto.
I do know that Mitzie Hunter is a transit advocate, and have heard her speak dozens of times as CEO of Civic Action on the need for regional transit.
Rob Ford claims that Conservatives will build subways but to date the only money that has been dedicated to the Scarborough subway has come from the Wynne Liberals, and it doesn’t appear that Ford has managed to get any financial commitments from the Federal Conservatives. This seems extremely odd, since most large infrastructure projects across Canada are split 3 ways between, city, province and the federal government.
Winston Churchill once said “The farther backward you are able to look the farther forward you are likely to see.” I would add that good governing is about making hard decisions for the long-term. Bad governing occurs when politicians make short-term decisions to gain votes.
Unfortunately the provincial Conservatives have demonstrated bad government over the past two decades. Starting with the Mike Harris government, like Mayor Ford they offered immediate tax cuts, but ignored the long-term impacts. Their decision to sell highway 407 to balance their budget was a lesson in complete short-sightedness. The Harris government sold the 407 for only $3.1 Billion, estimates three years later valued it at well over $12Billion.
When it comes to subway and transit expansion what worries me most about the provincial Conservatives is their history of short-term decision making. Take the Harris government decision in 1995 to halt the extension of the Yonge line to Downsview as well as the Eglinton subway project. Current leader Tim Hudak was a key player in the Harris government when the Eglinton subway line, estimated to cost $2.6 Billion in 1995, was cancelled and buried in. Today we are paying close to $8.2 Billion for the Eglinton crosstown line.
The short-term decision to cancel transit expansion projects across the GTHA by the Harris government created the gridlock we have today. The C.D. Howe Institute estimates that gridlock is costing residents and businesses well over $12 Billion per year. The Progressive Conservatives have a long history of short-term decision making that have costly long-term impacts on Ontario residents and businesses.
So today if Rob Ford reaches your door and promises that Conservatives will deliver subway expansion ask him why they cancelled it in the 90s, and why the federal Conservatives haven’t come through with any funding — and check to see if his eyes are glazed over.