The streetcars live! Day two of Rob Ford’s Toronto and he’s already changing his campaign promises

The streetcars live! Day two of Rob Ford’s Toronto and he’s already changing his campaign promises

(Image: Half my Dad's Age, from the Flickr pool) 

A lot of odd things get said in the heat of a campaign, like “let’s dig a tunnel to the Gardiner” or “this is how to pronounce my name.” One of the great sports of the post-election season is what can only be called the Great Campaign Walkback. This is where a politician who wins on huge promises and a tidal wave of support for his plans has to calm things down and admit, well, some of these goals looked a lot easier to reach before the election. According to the National Post, at least one part of Rob Ford’s campaign platform is already getting the walkback treatment.

“There’s a misnomer out there that a big crane is going to come along when Rob is elected, grabbing these streetcars and tossing them in the lake. It’s just not going to happen. Spadina is there to stay, St. Clair is there to stay,” said Doug Ford, brother to mayor-elect Rob Ford and the new councillor for Etobicoke North.

Doug Ford announced yesterday that he will donate his councillor salary, about $100,000, to the community every year. He said internal polling during the election showed that, overwhelmingly, people want subways over streetcars. The mayor elect reaffirmed his promise to extend the Sheppard subway line.

Our first instinct upon reading that was to say that Doug Ford doesn’t know what a misnomer is, but that’s all downtown elitist of us, and clearly it’s time to move on. The bigger issue here is where we end up if we follow the bouncing ball of logic: if the tracks are here to stay, and if our existing streetcars are getting into retirement age, isn’t the city going to need new ones? And isn’t the easiest (and cheapest) way to do that just to keep the Bombardier light-rail trains Ford spent the campaign railing against and promising to sell?

Some reporters are saying that Dalton McGuinty is “open” to Ford’s ideas on transit, but reading the quotes, it sounds like the Premier is just being his usual bland, conciliatory self. A better indication comes from Kathleen Wynne, who is laying down the law pretty firmly, saying Transit City is here to stay.

• Certain streetcars are here to stay, says Doug Ford, councillor-elect [National Post]
• McGuinty open to Ford ideas on transit [CBC News]
• Ford won’t ditch streetcars [Toronto Star]
• Ford’s plans to deal with priorities [Toronto Sun]