The Pembina Institute, an environmental think tank, has just released one of its periodic reports on public transit in Toronto, and the takeaway is clear. The institute is saying, essentially, that if you care about transit in Toronto, you should vote for anyone you like in the upcoming provincial election, as long as they’re not Tories.
All stories relating to Tim Hudak
Politicians should be allowed to change their minds from time to time, but there’s something a little strange about today’s Tim Hudak news. After a year and a half of promoting his party’s “right to work” proposal, which if enacted would have ended mandatory union dues by doing away with the Rand formula, the Ontario PC leader unceremoniously killed the idea during a breakfast speech today before the Toronto Region Board of Trade. “If we are elected, we’re not going to do it,” he reportedly told a roomful of Toronto business leaders. The party is pushing another policy that would merely force unions to compete for government contracts, rather than gut their ability to raise funds.
It’s the second reversal for the Tories in two days. Yesterday’s stunner was Doug Ford’s announcement that he won’t be running on the PC ticket in the next provincial election, which is expected to take place in the spring.
It turns out that years of policy debates about how to fund transit expansion in the GTA with new taxes and fees have all been pointless, because Tim Hudak and the provincial Tories have it all figured out: we’ll just build all the public transit we want and make no sacrifices whatsoever.
The latest in a series of white papers being released by the Ontario PC party in anticipation of the next provincial election says essentially that. It suggests that recent proposals to raise billions of public-transit dollars each year with new taxes and fees are misguided, and that the province can fund badly needed infrastructure improvements—like the construction of a downtown relief subway line—using existing funding in combination with money from the sale of surplus land and provincial buildings.
You know you live in interesting times when the chief of police is the most powerful person in town. What propelled Chief Blair to the top of our Influentials list was Rob Ford’s Crackgate—a story that consumed the city for much of the last year and whose bewildering narrative is still being written. Of course, Ford wasn’t the only politician who behaved badly in 2013. Chronic dysfunction is evident at all levels of government, from the petty infighting at city hall to the crippling gamesmanship at Queen’s Park and the expense scandals on Parliament Hill. And yet, it’s not all doom and gloom. Some of the city’s most formidable leaders are outside the traditional halls of power: global hip-hop stars, tech titans, gossip bloggers and guitar-strumming astronauts, among others. The people ranked here all did something in 2013 that made an impact on our lives, for better or for worse. Our list demonstrates that sometimes influence is enduring, sometimes it’s fickle and sometimes it rests on a single cellphone video that could forever change the complexion of the city.
Twitter exploded this morning with “Livin’ on a Prayer” puns over news that classic rock mainstay and hair enthusiast Jon Bon Jovi is joining forces with Larry Tanenbaum (part owner of MLSE) and Tim Leiweke (president and CEO of MLSE) to bid on the Buffalo Bills and move the team to Toronto. Rock star wattage has brought attention to the idea, but most still consider Rogers to be the primary candidate to bring American football into our Canadian backyard.
The move would complete the years-long campaign to get an NFL team into Canada, but is also fraught with snags and questions: the Bills price could be as high as $1 billion; getting them out of their current venue lease before 2020 would rack up another $400 million; and a new Toronto stadium could cost yet another $1 billion (possible locations: Downsview Park, Woodbine Racetrack). Plus, the Bills will not be available for purchase until 95-year-old owner Ralph Wilson passes away. And what about the CFL? Could the city support both the Toronto Bills and the Toronto Argos? Read the rest of this entry »
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Mayor Rob Ford’s second press conference on Tuesday saw him read a detailed and repetitive apology for smoking crack, in which he insisted he “had nothing left to hide.” Forgive us for not taking the mayor at his word, but we still have a few questions about this whole crack situation. Here, our list of 62 outstanding queries not yet addressed by Ford:
1. What is the mayor’s take on the homophobic and racist remarks he allegedly made on the video that is now in police possession? Read the rest of this entry »
2. Has the mayor accepted Bill Blair‘s invitation to watch the video that supposedly shows Ford smoking crack?
3. What is the mayor’s reaction to allegations published yesterday that his spokesperson tried to hire a hacker to find and dispose of the infamous video?
4. Will he co-operate with the police in their ongoing investigation?
5. Or even accept the cops’ invitation to meet voluntarily?
Read the rest of this entry »
If we don’t win in Toronto and near GTA, we’re always in opposition. So here’s what I’m doing. We’ve got to break gridlock. People are spending far too much time stuck in their cars, stuck in traffic.
—Ontario Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak on his master plan for convincing Toronto voters to vote Progressive Conservative. During the party’s policy convention this weekend in London, Hudak managed to sidestep an attempted mutiny, though the assembled delegates did give the leader a thorough shellacking in light of the party’s dismal byelection result this summer. A Thornhill delegate bluntly identified the problem: “Right now, our image is heartless, business-oriented, money first, not caring enough about people.” This helps to explain why Hudak spent much of the weekend cracking jokes and waltzing through the crowd like a male Oprah. [Toronto Sun]
Following a campaign full of petty swipes and arguments over photo ops, deputy mayor Doug Holyday triumphed over Liberal candidate Peter Milczyn in the Etobicoke-Lakeshore provincial by-election. The victory marks the first for the Progressive Conservatives in Toronto in more than a decade, which is much-needed good news for Tim Hudak. For Rob Ford, however, it means losing a loyal and experienced number two. The mayor has already announced that councillor Norm Kelly will step in as Toronto’s new deputy mayor. No word yet if he’ll also take over as Ford’s ad-hoc spokesperson the next time the mayor is mired in drama.
We expected a bumpy ride with Ford as mayor, but we weren’t prepared for a self-sabotaging Lindsay Lohan of politics. With a new scandal every week, it’s easy to lose track. Hence, we present a scrapbook of two very long years in Fordlandia.
Each year, Queen’s Park releases the sunshine list, a catalogue of all the Ontario public servants who made $100,000 or more—and, because the $100,000 threshold hasn’t changed since the list’s inception in 1996, that exalted group now contains nearly 88,412 members. (Were the benchmark tied to inflation, it would now be over $139,000, cutting the list to about 18,000 people.) Since most people have better things to do this long weekend than sift through tens of thousands of names, we put together this cheat sheet of 2012’s most high-profile recipients of public largesse.
Ontario Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak sounded eerily like his good buddy Rob Ford yesterday in a speech to the Toronto Region Board of Trade. Hudak outlined his three-point plan for expanding Toronto’s transit system: (1) root out waste (one of Ford’s favourite pastimes); (2) subways, subways, subways, especially in Scarborough; and (3) no new taxes or tolls to pay for transit (Ford has been criticized—and mocked—for his staunch opposition to new revenue sources). Hudak even said Toronto is a city where “something has gone off the rails”—like, say, a gravy train? [Toronto Star]
After a Liberal leadership convention full of the usual back-room alliances and surprise reversals, Kathleen Wynne emerged as Ontario’s first female premier and Canada’s first openly gay premier. Although a few columnists and reporters touched on those firsts, most politicians and pundits are focused on how Wynne will handle the long list of headaches she’s inheriting from Dalton McGuinty: the Liberals are facing a precarious minority government, poor poll results and the province’s $14.4-billion deficit. Below, what Queen’s Park watchers are saying about Wynne’s win, and whether she can handle the challenges ahead. Read the rest of this entry »
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Despite the fact that Ford Fest is open to anyone who cares to schlep over to Rob Ford’s mom’s house in Etobicoke, every year there seems to be some issue with the guest list at the community barbecue. Last year it was speculation over whether Tim Hudak would attend (he did); this year, a contingent from the LGBT community is planning an unofficial Pride parade for this evening’s event. The idea is to help the mayor see what he’s been missing (and, we imagine, to enjoy some hot dogs, beer and pony rides). The group’s Facebook event page explains:
Well, since Rob was too busy to come to any Pride events this year, we are going to bring the Pride Parade to his backyard. After all, everyone is invited.
Well, that was fast. Despite corralling 113,000 signatures, a request from the Ontario Convenience Stores Association to bring beer and wine to corner stores was shot down by Ontario Liberals yesterday. In an email to the Toronto Sun, Aly Vitunski, a spokesperson for Ontario Finance Minister Dwight Duncan, adopted an “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” kind of attitude, saying: “The current system balances access for both customers and suppliers with social responsibility. We take the concerns of convenience store owners seriously, but we believe the current system of selling liquor is an effective way to guard the public interest.” The Sun also quotes NDP MPP Rosario Marchese making similar noises, although Tim Hudak, at least, “didn’t reject the idea outright.” Perhaps the $1.5 billion annual dividend the LCBO pays to provincial coffers has something to do with all this? [Toronto Sun]
Loyal councillors have defied him. His approval ratings have plummeted. And his powerful Conservative backers are nervous. How did it all go so wrong? The strange story of Rob Ford’s city hall
On Newstalk 1010, the sly strains of the Hollies hit “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother” offered the first clue. Then morning host Jerry Agar burst on the air with a surprise announcement: Rob Ford and his councillor sibling Doug were taking over the station’s Sunday afternoon talk-fest, The City. For the once-staid CFRB, landing the boisterous brother act that Margaret Atwood had puckishly dubbed the “twin Ford mayors” was clearly a coup, but that didn’t answer the more obvious question: why on earth would the Fords want to spend two more hours a week in front of an open microphone when they were hardly suffering from a lack of media exposure?
Rob Ford, after all, ranks as one of the most compelling and exhaustively chronicled figures in Canadian politics, adored and despised with equal gusto. His every pronouncement seems to turn into front-page fodder, his every grimace and belly scratch catalogued by rapt photographers. And who could forget the YouTube footage of comedian Mary Walsh arriving in his driveway, decked out with a velvet breastplate and a plastic sword? Read the rest of this entry »
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