Like many, I was really disappointed when Doug Ford won the Ontario election last month. I wasn’t especially happy with Andrea Horwath, either, but Doug’s populism – higher rates for hydro, awful haircuts and all that – just didn’t have a place in my book.
Yet when he announced that he would shut down Toronto’s transit agency and axe the city’s transit agency (and some 10,000 jobs), I got a chill up my spine.
Doug Ford: the man the left hates, and who loves it Read more
After all, in his decade-plus as mayor of Etobicoke, a part of the GTA beyond Toronto, Doug meant well – as did most of his colleagues there. But he had no clue what he was doing, and was clueless as to why it mattered. He was brought down by community activists who understood what government policy could do for us. He saw it, and he did not. We are all poorer as a result.
So of course Doug’s new government was going to cut transit in the Greater Toronto Area, and I’m still feeling chill – but not enough to skip work. So I was saddened – but also amused – to see a slew of headlines that seemed to acknowledge what should have been obvious: slashing transit would deal a fatal blow to the GTA’s economy.
This is no time to shy away from the fact that Doug’s budget will cause business closures, sick days, job losses, and increases in prices of our groceries, services, and other essentials. But instead of journalism, we get “world leaders” echoing those tweets.
Is there anything more transparently political than using those spots for quotes meant to reassure us?
According to the McMaster University economics professor, David Macdonald, if Ford hadn’t messaged his budget with those bit-by-bit anecdotes, instead of a few terminal phrases that meant very little to most of us, then people would have seen what it meant.
Like a lot of people, I’m tired of what, thanks to your shift-job minister and your nepotism-phobic premier, I will have to deal with: security guards being told not to follow me home, a pump my morning coffee, mandatory time-out time, and a lot more.
The people who have to get out on a limb to publicly complain about it are also people who are already living in poverty or unable to get by on minimum wage. As CEO of Bread Line, my charity that provides a range of social services, the reaction I get from clients is pretty much universal: “How could they possibly think this is going to help anyone?” It’s all so regrettable.
That’s actually a reflection of what has been happening right now. When economic recovery doesn’t feel like recovery, when people can’t get ahead, and the least fortunate don’t have a voice, the folks who are most resentful can lash out. And that’s what Doug Ford is doing, in different ways.
By having his way, he’s throwing all the GTA’s assumptions into question. He may actually turn out to be a disaster for the region, but already, he’s already hitting Toronto’s wallet hard.
No, Doug Ford isn’t just being shortsighted. He thinks the public purse can take it. I know for a fact that there is not enough money in the GTA to keep the subway to downtown Toronto running at full capacity, let alone the $30bn his government will have to spend building many new stations and building more overhead wires that will catch on the ground. With his budget, the government is actually laying the groundwork for what could be a great problem.
The Green belt is already creaking, and all the more so with those buses and commuter train cars going down in the GTA. Already, we have to endure almost daily backups on Queen’s Park Avenue. And after all this, the first major new urban transit project of the new Ford government won’t even bring you to the centre of the city. And no, this isn’t me being gleeful. It’s business sense.
I’m optimistic that Kathleen Wynne’s Liberal government made it through the election despite the fact that most Ontarians didn’t like it, and that this government will go down in history as an abject failure.
All of Doug Ford’s usual racism,