Saturday, March 03, 2007

Spadina Subway Announcement

I heard on the news this morning that Premier Dalton McGuinty and Prime Minister Stephen Harper will be announcing that the Feds have finally kicked in the money to get construction started on the extension to the Spadina-University Line. This announcement comes almost exactly a year after the completion of the Environmental Assessment.The extension will snake all the way up into York Region, with stops at Sheppard near Downsview Park, Finch, York University, Steeles, Highway 407, and ending in the Vaughan Corporate Centre. The province had squirrelled away their contribution last year to await this completely unforeseen day. But in some ways we should have seen it coming. The reason: the Conservatives, like the Ontario Liberals, want to be seen as understanding our public transit needs and being on-board in both helping our environment and congestion problems. Bollocks.

The real reason this extension is happening now is that (1) the provincial government is facing an election in October, and action helps get votes. But (2) even more importantly, the Conservatives are seeing polls showing them in the lead not only nationally, but in the all-important vote-rich province of Ontario. They want to capitalize on this unprecendented happy political moment, and their best chance of doing that and getting their coveted majority is making voters see Harper as taking action (unlike the waffling federal Liberals) in their backyard, action that both benefits them and enhances his Mr. Decisive Action reputation.

I’m now believing those pundits who are saying that Harper will be calling for an election in the spring. It makes me wonder though — if the Liberals win a minority federally, will they cancel the subway, just like the Harris Tories did over a decade ago?


David said...

I agree with your analysis on the rationale behind the decision. I'm curious to know what you think of the extension itself on the heels of your recent Metroblogging post. Do you think it's the right place to invest public transit dollars or would the money be better spent on infrastructure closer to the core?

talk talk talk said...

That's a good question. I'll have to think about it and will post an answer on Metblogs. On a related note, I did start thinking this afternoon about what it would take to buy MY vote: a firm commitment from the Federal government to fund a downtown subway line, replace the Gardiner, and provide regular, stable, sufficient capital money for Toronto public transit from the Feds (and a restoration of the pre-Harris funding formula from the province). But I think Harper figures he can't win in Toronto so won't even try!

Mark Dowling said...

I think it's more important that the TTC rather than Ontario or Canada make the call on where Toronto transit dollars are spent but the "senior" politicians prefer one off dollops of cash which involve cutting ribbons than steady funding.

talk talk talk said...

I agree. Plus the senior levels of government seem to be only interested in funding public transit in Toronto if it goes to where they'll get votes, in other words only if it's tied to a 905 area.