Updated October 16, 2012 at 8:30 pm:
The Toronto Star reports that Tim Hudak has pledged to redirect all of the money earmarked for a Toronto LRT network to subway construction if he is elected Premier. This is a truly bizarre stance for someone who claims to be trying to save Ontario money when we consider that almost none of the pledged $8-billion plus has actually been spent or committed, and this is all net new money, new borrowing Ontario will have to undertake.
Hudak was playing to his audience of Ford-friendly councillors who do not have control of Council on the transit file, but who seem to be attempting an end run around Council by having Queen’s Park support his position unilaterally. Anyone who thinks they will get a full-blown Eglinton subway, and a Sheppard line (STC to Downsview) and a BD extension to the Scarborough Town Centre for these funds is dreaming. Sadly, however, Toronto has a bad habit of wanting more than it can afford especially when someone else will foot the bill.
If I try to put myself in a conservative mindset (and that’s with a small “c”), I would be asking how much of that $8b actually needs to be spent at all, or spent on transit rather than some other portfolio. That would be a common sense thing to do, the kind of approach we might expect from Mike Harris. Alas, “common sense” also includes buying off local politicians by keeping their pet subway projects alive.
But no, Tim Hudak wants to spend $8b he doesn’t have on overbuilding a partial subway network apparently because he thinks this will play well to Ford’s base. He might want to think about the uproar over paltry hundreds of millions wasted on shifting power plants out of Liberal ridings and consider whether the lure of the megaprojects has clouded his vision.
Of course, all this depends on “affordability” which is tied to the end of the provincial deficit, and so Hudak will likely never have to borrow that $8b whatever he might spend it on. All he will achieve is even more delay in building any transit for Toronto.
Thanks to the Liberals’ tinkering with project schedules and love for P3 implementation, little work will actually be tendered by the time the government falls sometime in 2013. Cancelling the Finch and Sheppard LRT lines will be child’s play, and the SRT upgrade will probably morph into an unbuilt subway while the SRT lies at death’s door.
Toronto Council needs to wake up and remind Mr. Hudak that the Mayor does not speak for the City. Does Hudak even care, or is he just giving his pal a chance to say “screw you” to his opponents?