Ford says he can’t wait for an official route
Ontario Premier Doug Ford said Thursday he’s unconcerned with the months-long delays holding up approval of his plan to build a planned high-speed highway between Waterloo and Kitchener.
But there may be a logic behind the latest act of autodublishing in the latest halting of the Doug Ford Trail, that he will get, when he wants to build.
In fairness, Doug Ford appears to believe that the solution to his former most colossal headache — his Transportation Minister resigning on his way out the door, and controversy not yet resolved over cancelling toll lanes on Toronto’s Eglinton Crosstown — is simply to have a road or two built to alleviate congestion.
As Ford put it Thursday: “It is time for people to move on.”
But Ford should know the tactic risks serious consequences. Here’s why:
First, why else would Ford drag out a process he already knew would take two years, where he’d have to wrangle with two different political parties to get the legislation passed? The issue had been brought before the legislature this spring, but back in June, his Progressive Conservative government appeared to go back on its promise. Plus, one deputy minister, Steve Orser, had left his post and the process had been rescheduled, so there had been no business of moving an actual line item into the budget for the Highway 413 project.
But Ford’s get-a-way logic has a logic fail if you consider the project’s fundamental rejection by the Liberals, who in 2010 removed the prerogative of cabinet approval and expanded the application process to include route studies by regional regional districts and that could cause delays for the National Capital Commission and other bodies. And Ontario, through the Office of the Provincial Infrastructure Renewal Program, received 37,444 pre-application submissions for various parts of the project.
So, why start with the route if you’ve already had the public consultation that started two years ago and now requires these processes in addition to the public consultation that will be required for construction?
Secondly, this is a new vehicle that Ford doesn’t fully control. The Ministry of Transportation was under the provincial transportation minister’s purview before Ford took over the position. Also, if there’s any political setback on this highway project, the years of delays and bad publicity will bleed over into the next Tory government that takes over at Queen’s Park in the 2019 election.
Thirdly, Ford has never owned a vehicle, but he is a billionaire, whose companies reportedly took in $7.4 billion in revenue last year.
I understand that Ford wants to make some noise on his ambitions, to make noise about building a road or two or six. But is the tactic clever or what?
Where’s the logic?