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Dennis Mills on the Waterfront
12/01/2004

Today I received a release from the Toronto waterfront action group CommunityAir about Dennis Mills. Apparently Paul Martin has appointed Dennis Mills to lead some sort of review of Toronto's waterfront, but I don't know the facts since I can't find any news about it online. (Google finds an article from Canada.com on Saturday, but it is no longer online. This is all I get: "Mills to head review of waterfront; Dennis Mills, the Toronto MP who brought the Rolling Stones and the Pope to the city, will be asked by Prime Minister Paul Martin to begin a wide-ranging ...")

CommunityAir slams Mills' appointment, and gives these points:

  • Mills has been close to airline promoter Robert Deluce from the outset. A press photo shows him supporting Deluce and lobbyists at the launch of a scheme to run a new airline from the Toronto Island ... provided a bridge was built. Click here to see a photograph of the group.
  • Mills has been a spokesman for gambling interests who want to turn the waterfront over to casinos. Mills has said he envisions three casinos on the waterfront.
  • Mills was involved in a scandal that saw him using paid staff from the Port Authority's predecessor, the Toronto Harbour Commission, to work covertly on his federal election campaign.
  • Mills has long advocated jets at the Island Airport.
  • Mills was the 11th hour instigator of the federal Toronto Port Authority, a body, which in its short life has cost Toronto taxpayers tens of millions of dollars in subsidies and legal actions. He caused the failing Toronto Port to be elevated to federal status as a port on third reading of the Canada Marine Act. Just three weeks ago, Mills said the Toronto Port Authority must remain in order to maintain the federal government's finger in the waterfront pie.
  • Mills has long been a cheerleader for the bridge and expansion of the Island Airport. In Oct. 2002 he appeared at a city hall committee to claim that his election in 1997 was a mandate to expand the Island Airport. The people of the City of Toronto massively rejected the bridge by voting for David Miller for mayor in November 2003.
  • Mills has been an opponent of the City's clean, green waterfront plan; he has criticized the Toronto Waterfront Revitalization Group headed by Robert Fung for its notion that the waterfront should include housing and new economy jobs.

I have always had very mixed feelings about Dennis Mills. On the positive side, I do have to give him credit for working hard on personal requests made by constituents, and for his work in bringing the Rolling Stones Downsview concert to the city. On the other hand, I've always seen him as a backer of goofy schemes. Among other things, he was the nut behind the NHL subsidy idea.

I generally think of Toronto MPs as providing nothing for this city beyond general peace, order, and good government in Ottawa. Dennis Mills was a bit of an exception in bringing the SARS benefit concert together, but if what CommunityAir has written here is true I'm now concerned that he is much more of a detriment to this city than an asset.

I'm also beginning to worry a bit more about Paul Martin, and what sorts of things he has up his sleeve when it comes to Toronto's waterfront.


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