Mayor Rob Ford discovers his own personal spending problem, asks the province for $150 million

Mayor Rob Ford discovers his own personal spending problem, asks the province for $150 million

During the election campaign—and up to the present—the brothers Rob and Doug Ford have made it clear that Toronto has a spending problem, not a revenue problem. It was the first very sentence on the mayor’s “issues” Web site during the election, he said it in his first interview after being voted in and it came up repeatedly in the city budget debate last week. This is no small part of the Fords’ vision for Toronto—if there’s a core to that vision, this is close to it. So why did the mayor send Queen’s Park a letter asking for $150 million? The move is awfully David Miller–esque.

According to the Toronto Star:

Mayor Rob Ford, who campaigned on the city having a spending—not a revenue—problem, is asking the Ontario government for an injection of more than $150 million in the provincial budget expected in late March, the Star has learned.

In a four-page letter dated Jan. 25, sent by Ford to Ontario Finance Minister Dwight Duncan and obtained by the Star, the mayor asks for money for road construction and repair, public transit projects, a Fort York visitor centre and the renewal of programs to fund subsidized child care, housing and services for immigrants…

“The city seeks the restoration of the 50 per cent provincial operating subsidy for public transportation costs,” Ford wrote. “Ongoing, stable provincial support would ensure predictable funding for existing TTC riders (447 million strong) and future growth in TTC infrastructure.”

This isn’t all Ford’s doing by any means. Earlier in the year council’s budget chief Mike Del Grande complained that the budget process was being “staff-directed,” and these are requests that the city’s had for years—so this shouldn’t be seen as the full Ford budget. Still, it’s the mayor’s name at the bottom of this letter to Queen’s Park.

OK, we get it: it’s a provincial election year and the McGuinty Liberals have (so far) been accommodating to the landslide-winning Ford. No surprises there, and if the effect of this letter that Toronto gets cash for key programs, then huzzah, we say. Still, the cause for sarcasm is a bit obvious. The mayor was the one and only vote against Provincial health funding for HIV and syphilis screening in Toronto—a move that would not have cost a dime to the city directly. In explaining his vote, Ford said, “Everyone says it’s provincial money. No. It’s taxpayers’ money.”

This is how Rob Ford gets himself in to trouble. He asks the province for $150 million in January, then votes against $100,000 in provincial money for HIV screening in February. It’s all “taxpayers’ money,” as the mayor says, and we know how much respect Ford has for taxpayers. From month to month, though, it’s hard to figure out what that means.

• Ford asks province for more than $150M [Toronto Star]

UPDATE (February 28 at 11:52 a.m.): Well, that didn’t take long. Adam Randwanski is reporting via Twitter that Dwight Duncan has turned down mayor Ford’s request for addition money: “Duncan says (in scrum) that Ford won’t be getting extra money from the province; resists temptation to call him a hypocrite.”