The results of the recent municipal election have produced a strong mandate for renewed investment in transit and transportation. In an era of fiscal constraint, how does the Ontario government get the biggest bang for its buck out of this fund? The answer is right under its nose: trust in the made-in-Ontario Alternative Financing and Procurement (AFP) model. The government uses the AFP model as a means to leverage capital and expertise from the private sector to design, build, finance, and maintain major infrastructure projects. In doing so, the model transfers the risk of project cost increases and scheduling delays on to the private sector.
Voting for Tory in order to guarantee that we don't have to deal with four more years of Ford has become a kind of twisted civic sacrifice, which members of the liberal media tell us concerned citizens should be willing to make. The problem is that as we chase the Fords towards a well-deserved exile, we fail to see that we've lowered the gates to equally, if not more, regressive social policies and market-based politics.
I was not prepared for what actually happened last night. Olivia Chow started off with vigour but then seemed to fade, John Tory was aggressive, and both attacked Doug Ford as if he were the frontrunner. There were no kid gloves for the debate newcomer. I think many observers may see this as the beginning of the end for John Tory, the much anticipated point where he begins to lose as he has done so often before.
It's almost as if that nasty business of the media running roughshod -- downright bullying -- a man suffering from a mental illness never happened. Journalists never hounded him at the rehabilitation facility. Or coerced other patients into revealing intimate details of his treatment. Or wrote features about the clinic founder's own history with the law. Now that he's dealing with a physical disease, on the other hand, it's real. Let's give the man some privacy, our noble journalism vanguards suddenly declare.
The trouble is that recent years have invigorated the mayor's brand of hyperbole politics. It pays out in spades for those willing to join the bandwagon and echo the "us versus them" chorus. Its cronies transcend party lines; its victims and resisters fade quickly from memory ("not a leader", anyone?). It is the Ford Nation creed. A new, normalized nastiness has imbued the body politic, harshly demarking who is "one of us" and who is to be cast aside. Its candidates bob in the fickle surf of prejudice or fashionable platitudes, instead of wading into their own vision or fair-minded convictions.
Mr. Ford and Mr. Tory share something else. Neither wants to work to the plan we have, preferring instead to draw new lines on maps. It's never easy to decipher what, precisely, Mr. Tory believes today, but it seems he no longer supports the Sheppard or Finch LRT's. And he certainly no longer supports the subway relief line that is the TTC's top priority, which is odd because getting it built allegedly propelled him to run.
The mayor is only relevant if people make him relevant. For every time we make a sensation about Rob Ford and his latest scandal, we give him attention that he does not deserve. His election chances were ill-served when social media went quiet, and we are now ill-served by perpetuating stories about how he is a tactless, corrupt, and bigoted embarrassment to the city.