David Godley has written the following report concerning a recent meeting he attended, organized by the Olivia Chow campaign for the Toronto mayoralty campaign:
Olivia Chow’s Volunteer Meeting May 1st Legion Hall, New Toronto
I attended the fourth of a series of 4 meetings around the City. I estimate 150 people attended. Olivia Chow is running for mayor for the City of Toronto with voting day October 27th. Olivia Chow is a former NDP MP and Toronto City Councillor.
Other prime contenders are the current Mayor (on leave of absence) Rob Ford, John Tory former leader of the Provincial Conservatives, David Socknacki, former Toronto City Councillor and Karen Stintz a current Councillor.
Olivia Chow gave a presentation before leaving to attend another community event. She outlined how she had arrived at this point in her life. Her interlinked platform has 3 areas of focus:
1) Jobs – a fairer society so that the rich poor divide is bridged thus fully utilising people’s potential. Also included are a small-business tax cuts and making polluters pay their fines with new trees which would reduce pollution at no cost to citizens.
2) Transit – a short, medium and long term approach including buses, light rail and subways. The Scarborough subway she regarded as a waste of money and felt the Relief Subway was the most important long term priority. To have an more effective transport system would reduce congestion, create more jobs and boost the economy. The Scarborough Subway would not have these advantages as it is the overloaded transport system downtown which is the main issue.
3) Children – help especially for those who had barriers to learning including poverty e.g. nutritional programs and after school programs. She wants to invest in the younger generation who will have to face the reality of under-investment in our infrastructure in the past. Education is key to create more and better jobs.
Jennifer Hollett, former Much Music video DJ and CBC journalist, was chief presenter. She told of her awakening the day after Rob Ford was elected mayor. She decided to step out of her bubble and work for a vision of the city of making life better for everyone. People would be mutually supported with grassroots civic engagement.
From audience comments it appeared that most people were angry with the current mayor; the other contenders were rarely mentioned.
Ward 6 municipal Council candidate, Russ Ford said his values were similar to Olivia’s, He jokingly says he is a relative of Harrison Ford and not Rob and Doug. He made a presentation about why he is standing as Councillor in Lakeshore. He believes that the young and needy do not have the opportunities today as they did in the 60’s when there were free recreation programs and you entered university on merit rather than paying $40,000.
Discussion of issues
Participants were invited to discuss issues with a partner. My own view is that the city has gradually deteriorated in fairness, social progressiveness and political partisanship over decades. Low taxes (asked for by the electorate) have made Toronto less competitive worldwide and have led to major challenges for the city to keep up with worldwide rivals. Toronto used to be the city that worked. Now it is the opposite. For example ancient signalling on the subway prevents efficient transportation. Our economy loses $6 billion a year through congestion according to the Board of Trade and Toronto needs to catch up with underfunding infrastructure.
My overarching issue is that the increasing inequality between rich and poor should be reversed. I support Warren Buffet, the sage of Omaha, that this leads to a more just society and creates a better economy and more jobs.
My crunch issue is that no objective evaluation of the proposed Scarborough Subway would conclude construction at this point. All the transport experts involved agree. The TTC Executive Director, Andy Byford, is pointing out the error of Scarborough Subway supporters. Switching back to the LRT would save $80m already spent and $600m offered by the Federal Government which could be spent on more needy projects. A minimum of $1200 per household tax hike and large subsidies to operate the line would be eliminated. And the LRT would be completed at least 4 years earlier than the subway.
The switch from the recent light rail decision was by far the worst decision of the amalgamated City of Toronto Council. It is not quite as bad as the Harris/Lastman cancellation of the Eglinton Subway which would probably have reached the airport by now. Instead we are heavily subsidising the lightly used Sheppard Subway. This set the City back about a decade simply to advance political careers.
My partner was a young mother from Bogota who believed in working together to help communities and who had emigrated to get away from corruption.
David Godley May 2014
[End of report written by David Godley]