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John Tory's Letter
11/03/2003
Of all the major candidates running for mayor of Toronto, only John Tory and David Miller seem to be active. Barbara Hall, John Nunziata and Tom Jakobek have had very little to say so far. So, Tory and Miller would seem to be the leaders so far, and even Warren Kinsella is backing John Tory now. In today's Globe and Mail, John Tory has a letter to the editor published in which he complains about a recent John Barber column that suggested Tory supports the amalgamation of local transit systems. I recently wrote about why such an amalgamation would be a bad idea, and certainly something no mayoral candidate should support. Here's Tory's letter, with my comments:
Toronto -- Re Uploading TTC: Tory Solution To Bogus Problem (March 6): John Barber seems to suggest that I support a takeover of the TTC by a regional transportation authority. I have not called for and I do not support the seizure of the TTC, or any other local operating transit authority, by a regional body. I have, however, called for a regional approach to the planning and allocation of capital for traffic and transit solutions.
Barber said that Tory introduced the regional takeover idea in his campaign kick-off speech. Here's what Tory said: "We need to work with other municipalities to plan and to fund capital for traffic and transit solutions on a regional basis. We need to create an authority which can make plans and allocate resources. And we need to gain approval for the extension of rapid transit well into the regions north and west of Toronto." While Tory doesn't actually use the word seizure, it sure sounds like he wants to set up a regional board that makes decisions and has power over money. When he says "allocate resources" it sure sounds like budgetary control over a regional transit body -- which would be a bad idea for the City of Toronto. He can claim he meant something else, but that's not the impression his speech gave. And, as Barber wrote, the way the province imposes these bad plans on us is through a creeping evolution that begins with statements like Tory's. Back to the letter:
Our problem doesn't lie in the operations of the TTC but in the inability of different governments to find effective solutions to the gridlock that is a sign of our city's decline. This matter could have been addressed over the years by those who are or have been in office at City Hall. The people of Toronto have the right to expect better.
I acknowledge that City Hall could have moved on some small issues to reduce gridlock by giving more priority to transit. But, on the whole, how is it the fault of the John Tory-supported Lastman administration that the John Tory-supported provincial government cut off financial support for the TTC? I certainly hope Tory won't try to attack the TTC itself, since it is broadly recognized as one of the best run in the world (at least since Al Leach left to go to Queen's Park). Tory's letter again:
We need to ensure that Toronto gets its fair share of funding within a regional context since much more money goes out of this city in taxes than is reinvested by Queen's Park and Ottawa in our transportation and other services.
This is a positive sign. I was afraid that Tory would stay too loyal to his Conservative roots and continue to blame Ottawa for the decline of Toronto, rather than point the finger at his friends in Queen's Park. Tory makes a point of mentioning both the federal and provincial governments whenever he criticizes higher powers, but at least he knows there is a problem with the way Harris and Eves have treated the city. As reported in the Globe a few days ago:
Mr. Tory, the political newcomer, said he would be willing to go with the other candidates, as a group, to seek commitments from those hoping to form the next provincial government. "We have let them off the hook too easily," he said of the provincial and federal governments' responsibilities to assist the city.
Summing up on John Tory and his letter, I think he can't wiggle out of being pinned to a very bad idea so easily. But, if he wants to change his mind, that's fine. The campaign is still very early and there is plenty of time for all of the candidates to get moving. Besides, by the time the mayoral election comes around, there is a good chance that John Tory's destructive friends will have been removed from Queen's Park. He won't have to worry about defending their bad ideas anymore.
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