Friday, February 10, 2012

A Great Day!

It isn't like stopping a war, or housing the homeless, or anything like that. But I have to credit TTC Chair Karen Stintz and Toronto City Council for standing up to the imbecilic coward Rob Ford and his stupid "plan" to bury the Eglinton LRT line.

For posterity's sake I'll describe it simply: Toronto's public transit is a mess. Canada is an eco-nightmare and we build roads and nobody has the brains or the maturity to recognize that alternatives need to be paid for and built. After decades on inaction, the competent and scandal-free administration of Dennis Miller negotiated a mega-transit project "Transit City" with the Ontario government which would better link the city together. It included LRT because LRT is cheaper and faster to build than underground subway trains. Subway trains are bigger. They need to be put underground to move lots of people from one relatively distant station to another. You don't spend one-billion dollars to build a tunnel to drive a golf-cart in, and you don't do it for light rail either.

Subways would be a good idea. But we didn't want to make the investment. The "Transit City" plan opted for LRT to get moving faster and cheaper.

And then Rob Ford won the race for mayor of Toronto on a campaign based either on fraud or ignorance and stupidity. He campaigned on the promise that there was almost a billion dollars of wasteful spending ("gravy") at City Hall and that he could cut taxes without having to cut services by way of eliminating this vast pool of "gravy."

He also campaigned that he would build subways and that he didn't like "Transit City." Now, to be charitable, Toronto voters had a choice between the lying Rob Ford or the lying George Smitherman. (The serious choice, Joe Pantalone, was excluded due to his not being a total stooge for corporate hucksters.) 60% of the electorate came out to vote and 47% of them voted for Ford's brand of lies and ignorance, which included not liking "Transit City."

It shouldn't have mattered. "Transit City" had already started. Shovels were in the ground. But sane people don't reckon with having to deal with people like Rob Ford. He unilaterally pronounced "Transit City" dead and ordered it to be halted. The $65 million in cancellation fines was to be ignored for as long as possible. Ford went to Queen's Park and came up with a deal that the province's money would go almost entirely towards burying the Eglinton LRT, with a few hundred million going towards the expansion of the Shepard Subway line that Ford said "the private sector" was lining up to fund.

Turns out the private sector wasn't lining up to expand the Shepard Subway. So Ford cancelled an $8.4 billion dollar, multi-route transit expansion in return for spending an extra $2 billion to bury an LRT line.

Ford's hand-picked TTC Chairperson, Karen Stintz, looked at the issue and decided that reality made more sense than Rob Ford's incoherent raving about "subways." She said that Toronto ought not to waste TWO BILLION DOLLARS building a tunnel for an LRT system. The money could be better spent expanding public transit elsewhere, including Ford's precious Shepard Subway.

Rob Ford doesn't like reality. That's why he lies so much. He refused Stintz advice and continued babbling about "subways." Ford's remaining ass-kissers on the TTC Board voted against issuing Stintz's report validating her position. Stintz gathered the signatures of enough councilors to call a special meeting to vote on her proposal.

Ford scrambled into damage-control mode (to the extent that it's possible for such a cretin) and stammered his way through a proposal to have an expert committee be formed to study the issue and report back to Council in 30 days. (He continued to blather on, confusing LRT with subways.) After a scheduled break in the debates he and some allies petulantly refused to return to the chamber in the hopes of preventing a vote. (That childishness also failed.)

In the end, saner heads prevailed and Ford lost his third big battle (waterfront development, the budget, and now the Eglinton LRT). In his typical loser fashion, Ford responded by calling the Council vote "irrelevant." The dunce actually wants people to believe that his memo of understanding with McGuinty, which was subject to the approval of their respective councils, gives him the right to carry on regardless. (If he REALLY believed that he wouldn't have even showed up for the vote though!)

Then, in a display of supreme comedy, Ford began wandering the subways babbling at strangers about the need for "subways." He and his less-idiotic brother vow to pointlessly harass people on the streets, at community centres (where they've raised the fees) and at the malls (where embattled Canadian households go into debt to keep the economy moving) to convince them that Toronto needs subways, even though the Brothers Ford have no intention of finding the money to pay for them. What they hope to accomplish with that is hard to fathom.

The thing is, this was a great day for democracy and the rule of law in Canada. Ford is just one of the latest in a line of blatant, lying, crude, capitalist hucksters. For too long we progressives have tolerated these liars and their stupid bullshit. I'm pretty certain that I wouldn't see eye-to-eye with Karen Stintz on a number of issues, but in this instance, she looked at Ford's "vision" and compared it with reality and made the right choice. Ford tried to shut her down but there are rules in place to control idiocy such as his. If only we had locked some harpercons up in the Peace Tower or demanded respect for Parliament's right to oversee the government's behaviour in a war zone, we wouldn't have this anti-democratic corporate criminal government of liars and thieves that we have now.

No comments: