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Why doesn’t Rob Ford hit up his Conservative pals in Ottawa for the Sheppard subway cash?

The mayor has a big problem: the Sheppard subway extension that he’s promised to build increasingly appears to make no financial sense, and neither the private nor the public sector seems prepared to pay for it. Yesterday, Rob Ford appealed to Dalton McGuinty to open the provincial purse, but the premier all but said no, which prompted Toronto Star columnist Martin Regg Cohn to ask why Ford doesn’t go ask Stephen Harper for the funds (seeing as how they’re chummy fishing buddies and all).

From Cohn’s column:

The bigger ask is a so-called “advance” on $650 million that Ford is counting on from Queen’s Park as a top-up on the Sheppard line. But under the new transit deal Ford made with McGuinty last March, the Sheppard top-up only flows if there is any leftover money from the Eglinton line that Queen’s Park is bankrolling. And until Eglinton is built, it’s hard to know if there will be money to spare.

So why doesn’t Ford simply ask Ottawa for a workaround under its Building Canada Fund? After all, the 2014 deadline that Ford claims must be met applies to an outdated deal for a Sheppard LRT that is itself dead.

Ford keeps trumpeting his alliances with the federal Tories. Why so reluctant to pressure them, publicly, into helping him out of a bind — rather than demanding that Queen’s Park twist itself into a pretzel to accommodate his own political contortions?

One reason that jumps to mind is that making sure cities run well is Dalton McGuinty’s job—not Harper’s—and Ford is doing the right thing by insisting that Queen’s Park live up to its obligations under the constitution. But another, more cynical reason—and what we suspect is probably the real one—is that the iron law of Canadian politics dictates no politician wants to be caught doing Toronto any favours if they don’t have to.

Cohn: Ford digs himself into a subway hole [Toronto Star]

(Images: Rob Ford—Shaun Merritt; Stephen HarperΠρωθυπουργός της Ελλάδας; Sheppard subway station—Kenny Louie)

  • Stephanie

    Queen’s Park is not obliged to fund Rob Ford’s stupid plan. Had Ford left well enough alone, transit development would be well under way. Blaming McGuinty for Ford’s lunacy doesn’t make sense. Ford created this mess all by himself.

  • M B

    The bigger question for me is when did Fat Bastard from the Austin Powers movies become Mayor?

  • AE

    I for one am glad transit city was tossed. The last thing we need is the centre lane (left turn) of all our major arteries in the north being removed.

  • Richard

    Blaming McGuinty for the mess Ford created is ludicrous. It’s not McGuinty’s responsibility to bail out Ford, a man who has no idea what he is doing. First Ford cancels a fully funded transit plan under construction. His alternative is not much of a plan that provides far less service at a much greater cost.

    Ford promised the private sector would pay for the Sheppard subway and that the public would not be on the hook for the cost of constructing and maintaining his pipe dream between two shopping malls. McGuinty is doing the right thing by holding Ford to that promise.