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Bait and Switch
23/10/2004

Scratch what I wrote earlier about Dalton McGuinty's Gas Tax Promise. It isn't all good news after all.

I wrote:

Overall, I can't complain, so long as this is all new money and not a replacement for any other previously-made commitments. It sounds like a promise kept.

Oops. It is not all new money. It is a replacement for previously-made commitments. And there are strings attached.

Do you remember back in March the federal and provincial governments threw a big show at the Yonge Subway's 50th Anniversary to announce ONE-BILLION-DOLLARS for the TTC? Remember it actually turned out to be $70-million per year from the province and $70-million per year from the federal government, and the remaining $70-million was from City Hall?

Well, based on today's Globe and Mail article, it looks like the new gas tax money is not in addition to this promise, but a replacement for it.

What's more, to qualify for the gas tax money, the City has to agree to co-fund GO Transit. The Globe says it will be $20-million per year. The Star says it could be as much as $62-million this year.

Well, in 2006 the gas tax money will be ramped up to 2 cents per litre, and this will be when the promise finally becomes a net positive. David Miller says he is happy we will then have "predictable funding". It peaks at 60% more than what Mike Harris promised in 2001, but we have to fund GO out of that bonus.

As for whether or not this is "a promise kept" by McGuinty, I'm not sure. This plan would live up to what he wrote to Barbara Hall, but Royson James reported in March that McGuinty promised he "would give the $1 billion over 10 years for TTC maintenance, and deliver 2 cents per litre of the gasoline tax, spread over four years." If James is correct, Dalton has failed.

POSTSCRIPT: On the other hand, have we even seen any of that promised federal money yet?


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