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Toronto's Waterfront Scandal
10/01/2006

Community Air has sent out a press release linking Stephen Harper's comments in the debate last night to the Toronto Port Authority.

I believe that they are mistaken, and that the "Toronto waterfront" scandal that Stephen Harper was refering to was this one, pertaining to the Waterfront Revitalization Corp, rather than the TPA's activities. However, the Toronto Port Authority is scandalous in its own right. Here is Community Air's release:

Toronto’s Waterfront Scandal goes national

Those who tuned into last night’s English language leaders’ debate heard Stephen Harper add the Toronto waterfront to the growing list of Liberal scandals.

Toronto’s waterfront scandal involves tens of millions of dollars belonging to Canadians. It is a scandal which is directly tied to Paul Martin’s government and involves a handful of privileged recipients and local Liberals.

For more than a year, CommunityAIR has been asking for a public inquiry into the entire cynical and seamy mess. This includes calls for an investigation by the Auditor General and an extensive grilling of Transport Minister Jean Lapierre this past fall by NDP Transport Critic Peter Julian. Mr. Julian was trying to pierce the veil of secrecy on last May’s $35-million Port Authority bailout, but was stonewalled.

Here are a few aspects of the waterfront scandal that the public needs to learn more about:

  • Liberal MP Tony Ianno’s claim at last Sunday’s ‘Great Waterfront Debate’ in Trinity-Spadina that the Island Airport cannot be closed because the Port Authority he co-founded in the late 1990s has run up some $700-million in long-term obligations. How can this be when annual revenue at the airport is only a little more than $1-million a year … less than many local corner stores? How did the Port Authority create such obligations when clause 55 (3) of the federal/municipal Tripartite Agreement that governs the Island Airport stipulates that deals made by the Port Authority are to terminate whenever the airport is closed? And how many of these contracts were untendered?
  • The Martin cabinet’s payout of $35-million to the Port Authority to cancel a $22-million bridge that was never started. This aspect of the broader scandal includes the purchase, by a local airline promoter, of four large hangars at the Island Airport just three days before the $35-million federal bailout to the Port Authority was announced last May. The same promoter has been named by Port Authority CEO Lisa Raitt as one of the principal beneficiaries of the $35-million payout. How much did he get? Who else got paid, and what were their claims? The public is entitled to know.
  • An untendered, long-term Port Authority contract with a Liberal-friendly stevedoring company to manage port operations, including cargo handling and marine terminals.
  • The controversial 11th hour formation of the Port Authority by MP Tony Ianno and other Toronto Liberal insiders. Toronto was added to the list of federal ports under the Canada Marine Act, even though the port of Toronto did not qualify for federal status and the federal government’s own investment banking consultant said it was not financially viable. This broke a promise made to then Mayor Barbara Hall that Toronto should and would keep control over its tiny port and hundreds of acres of valuable waterfront land. The lobbying effort to have the federal government take control of Toronto’s port and airport lands included a former executive for the Martin family’s Canada Steamship Lines.

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