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What? We're Still Talking About That Bridge?
27/04/2004

Today's Globe and Mail:

"Although the city has delayed the bridge [to the island airport] until now, this cannot continue," Henry Pankratz, the [Toronto Port] authority's chairman, wrote in a confidential letter recently sent to [Mayor David] Miller, who campaigned heavily during the mayoral election on a promise to kill the controversial bridge.

And the reply from the mayor is in the Toronto Star:

"City council has said no bridge, the Prime Minister of Canada has said no bridge, a public agency should be saying, `Yes, we understand,'" Miller said. "I am amazed the federal government allows its agency to be as out of control as it is."

The Port Authority claims that it has all the legal permits it needs to begin building the bridge, but those permits won't allow anything to happen until July 1. (The citizen's group fighting the bridge, Community Air, says that they have a pending lawsuit that also stands as an impediment to construction.)

After City Council voted against the bridge in December, Prime Minister Martin said he would respect council's decision. Wing-nuts erupted over the terrible lawsuits that were going to cripple the city -- but that have disintegrated instead.

The signal was sent that the Port Authority should work things out with the City. They wanted several million dollars for damages, and additional, on-going, payouts. However, negotiations have gone nowhere. The City says it is because the TPA has refused to demonstrate any of their expenses. The Port Authority claims it is because the City won't sign a confidentiality agreement. No doubt this is to protect them from the embarrasment that would ensue when their spending was made public.

Here's the bottom line. The Port Authority's airport is losing $1-million per year, and threatens to bankrupt the whole organization. That's why the deal was cobbled together to expand into a "mini-Pearson". The plan is entirely unrelated to -- and, in fact, at odds with -- the needs of the community. It's about self-preservation. Joining in are partners in the airline and plane-manufacturing businesses who hope to reap great profits at the same time. At all levels of the scheme you find well-connected Liberals.

In my view, if this thing goes ahead it speaks terribly of Martin, Volpe, Mills and the rest of this government. It would clearly be against the public interest and the expressed will of the people. Well, we will soon find out if we will have a chance to put this to another electoral test. Perhaps Paul Martin will be in a minority government by the time July 1 rolls around.


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