Let's stop bickering over TTC
I have been on the record for years, as a mayoralty candidate and as Opposition Leader in Ontario that our cities, especially Toronto, need committed, sustainable, reliable, annual funding for transit from BOTH provincial and federal governments. The year to year, handout to handout, election to election way of doing it just doesn't work and in fact encourages poor planning and a lack of commitment to transit.
I have also been a consistent advocate of better management of our public finances. All governments at all levels have failed to really pursue good value for each dollar spent in a methodical business like way, and so when Dalton McGuinty's government finally takes a few baby steps to get its affairs in order I can't be completely critical. It's always easy to say they should have picked the "other file".
Indeed, had they started earlier, they probably could have picked a file other than the much promised transit money, and Mayor David Miller has reason to be upset, but the province has its problems too.
I want to see a firm and final agreement to fund the Transit City initiatives (I would be happier if there were more subways included) and I want to see it now.
If, due to changing and dire financial circumstances that involves an iron-clad commitment to ALL of the promised money over a SLIGHTLY extended time, I am reluctantly prepared to live with that. It's just the reality of the times. As they say, a bird in the hand is better than two in the bush. I want the whole bird, not part of it, but I would reluctantly take the whole bird over a slightly longer period of time if it meant we got it all and got a FIRM commitment NOW.
I happen to believe Mayor Miller is taking the wrong approach by campaigning aggressively against the province, and in a very political way at that, before he has canvassed the possibility of this slightly amended timetable which gets us the same money and projects in the end.
I believe this approach will antagonize the province not win them over. It won't change their decision in my view and could even jeopardize the money we think we have.
I am also informed that Mayor Miller and his followers have adopted an "I'm not speaking to you" posture on this file when it comes to anyone associated with the provincial government so when people reach out to him and the municipal transit experts to see if we can find some middle ground, get some money flowing and get some transit built, our Mayor won't even take their calls. That will accomplish a lot.
I don't really care much if Mayor Miller makes announcements on the subway public address. I find any announcement other than explanations for train delays intrusive, but i don't get wound up about whether it is illegal or immoral.
I would rather he was announcing that he was going to declare a ceasefire in this war of words for, say, two weeks and ask for a meeting with Premier McGuinty to hammer something out. It is a meeting which the Premier should agree to immediately.
Then we should see that most novel of all scenes: two elected leaders actually sitting at a table together, determined to work something out for the good of the people they serve. And there is NO excuse for them leaving that table without a deal.
Former Bank of Canada Governor David Dodge recently referred to the need for some "adult conversations" in our country on the many big issues our leaders would prefer to ignore. He was so right.
Transit for Toronto is one of those issues. It's time for an adult conversation between the Mayor and the Premier but the Mayor will have to postpone hostilities for that to happen.
If it happens and produces nothing (a result for which both will have to share blame) then he can get those announcements on the subway platform fired up again. In the meantime, even the peace and quiet during the ceasefire would be welcome.