More often than not it seems that I find some surprising news on the political front awaits me when I return from a vacation. In 1991 or so - who can quite remember - I returned to find that the Peterson Liberals had been thrown out of power as Ontario voters had elected Bob Rae's socialist government. What followed was perhaps the darkest half decade in Ontario history. Rae's policies and spending precipitated a collapse of the province's economy.
This week I returned to find the McGuinty government down one Minister of Finance - as Mr. Sorbara has stepped down due to an ongoing RCMP investigation. This was a surprise - although the issue had on low simmer for a while.
In the very next blurb on 680 Radio, I learned that the St. Clair streetcar right-of-way project had been stopped as a result of a court ruling. The project is now in limbo.
The Star - October 13 2005
A three judge panel has blocked the construction of the dedicated right of way (ROW) - however it has not yet published, or given any indication of its reasoning. The appelants - the Save our St. Clair (SOS) community group challenged the project using three arguments. The judges may have agreed with one, two or even all three of these as the basis for the injunction.
Some commentators - for example The Star's Royson James - have blamed the 'setback' on an over-exuberant but well-meaning haste on the part of the ROW proponents. I beg to differ. I blame it on hubris and dishonesty. The entire EA process was a sham. Proponents such as Howard Moscoe never had the slightest intention of listening to community concerns. I sat in the deputations at City Hall. I don't remember even seeing Moscoe. Mayor David Miller drifted in and out - and was clearly not engaged.
I was sure at that time that the issue would be headed to court. People do not like having something rammed down their throats. People expect a fair process, not a rigged one.
The City/TTC position on one of the questions before the court exemplifies the duplicity and dishonesty exhibited by proponents throughout the process. They actually argued that the ROW was not a 'rapid transit project - but simply 'surface transit improvements'! This is despite the fact that the term 'rapid transit' is all over the TTC and planning documents:
TTC memo - Dec 9 2002
The memo in entitled 'STREETCAR RAPID TRANSIT ON ST. CLAIR AVENUE' - and funds for the EA came from the budget for rapid transit studies!