Doug Ford wants to upload the cost -- and the control -- of the Toronto subway system to the province. Martin Regg Cohn writes that there's a certain logic to that:
He alone shall be empowered to navigate the routes, bankroll the construction and borrow the funding. He’s not wrong about that, as past columns have argued, for there are good reasons for Queen’s Park to both pay the way and show the way.
He who pays the piper, or the tunneller, calls the tune. The problem is when the piper sounds out of tune, and displays a tin ear.
To begin with, when Ford was a city councillor, he insisted that the city call the tune. He has changed his position. He changes his positions a lot:
When he’s not picking a political fight with Toronto over the size of city council (threatening to use the notwithstanding clause to overrule the courts), he’s filing a quixotic court case against Ottawa’s perfectly legal carbon tax. Ford is consistently inconsistent, doesn’t play well with others, and doesn’t abide by boundaries, but we already knew that.
And more than that, by tearing up plans and work that has already been done, Ford -- who insists he is all about saving money -- will drive the province deeper into debt and delay subway expansion:
Ford is fighting an old fight over the Eglinton Crosstown, trying to bury more of the LRT in low density areas to the west, where the expert research shows the costs exceed the benefits. The heavy expense of tunnelling should be decided logically, not ideologically.
It is on Toronto’s eastern and western flanks — along the Eglinton Crosstown where work is underway, and the Scarborough extension that was supposed to go out to tender next month — that Ford is wearing his suburban blinkers. By tunnelling further, he will only bury us under deeper debt and delay the day of opening — for which there will be a reckoning.
New technology can make subway building cheaper than it used to be. But Ford's decisions to shut down wind farms and go to court are already costing Ontarians lots of money.
This isn't about money. This is about control. As with everything else, Doug Ford insists that he be in the driver's seat.