Provincial Liberals blame Rob Ford for GTA transit woes; we admire the province’s chutzpah
As they gear up for the October election, the provincial Liberals have devised a simple plan: reduce their vulnerability to attacks on everything that’s gone wrong in Ontario over the last eight years. Their latest tactic is to try and deflect responsibility for the GTA’s transit woes by blaming municipal governments for not having clear transit plans.
According to the Toronto Star, Liberal MPP Bob Chiarelli singled out one city politician in particular:
The problem lies with municipalities like Toronto and politicians like Mayor Rob Ford that decide how to spend billions of dollars in cheques signed by the province for improved public transit to get cars off the roads, Infrastructure Minister Bob Chiarelli said Tuesday.
“We’ve just seen in the city of Toronto a new mayor come in and want to … significantly re-do the priorities that had been set under a period of years,” he told a news conference held to boast about improvements to Ontario’s infrastructure since the Liberals took power in 2003.
“Our money’s been on the table, our money has adjusted to the circumstances.”
Now, we won’t spend a lot of time defending Mayor Ford’s decision to replace Transit City with a system that will cost more to move fewer people. But for the Liberal government to try and wash their hands of transit planning is more than a little cheeky. First off, Metrolinx isn’t a municipal responsibility, and it’s not as though GO users glide effortlessly to and from work every day on seats made of candy. (Which, in the summer heat, is probably for the best.) Moreover, Ford was only elected last October—how much does the province really have to crow about on the transit file for the seven years before that?
But we have to raise particular objection to Chiarelli’s assertion that the Ontario government “respected the municipalities’ autonomy.” Sure, the Ontario government respects the government of Toronto’s autonomy. Except when it comes to zoning decisions or, for that matter, anything that goes to the OMB, or the two-thirds of municipal spending mandated by provincial legislation. Yup, Queen’s Park is all about local democracy and planning.