On May 27, the John Tory campaign summoned the media to the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. After weeks of promising to build a “Yonge Street relief line,” Tory was set to announce his SmartTrack transit plan, a proposal to retrofit existing GO lines into subway-like commuter corridors. It’s since become the centrepiece of his campaign.
Tory’s address to reporters was preceded by a technical briefing, in which campaign officials laid out the logistics of the proposal. Before delving into specifics, though, the campaign official leading the briefing made an uncharacteristically frank—even embarrassing—admission about Tory’s commitment to another transit project: the controversial Scarborough subway, which Tory had promised, if elected, to “start digging” in 2015. This is what the official said: “We are, of course, duly chastened in regard to when that [project] can begin. It cannot have the shovels in the ground tomorrow morning, as we had previously advertised. And we’re very sorry; and we won’t make that mistake again.”
The 2015 prediction had always seemed far-fetched, but now this person was saying, definitively, that it was wrong. It was a newsworthy quote, but it wouldn’t make news. The reason the official was free to phrase the admission in such unflattering terms is that he expected that his words would never be printed, because he was speaking on background.
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