Transit problems across Canada prompt calls for politicians to address issue

Traffic piles up on the Gardiner Expressway as commuters head home during the evening rush hour in Toronto, Ont. March 14/2011. - Traffic piles up on the Gardiner Expressway as commuters head home during the evening rush hour in Toronto, Ont. March 14/2011. | Kevin Van Paassen/The Globe and Mail

Time to lead


From Saturday’s Globe and Mail
Published Friday, Mar. 25, 2011 9:50PM EDT
Last updated Saturday, Mar. 26, 2011 1:31PM EDT


Commute times in Canadian cities are no longer just a source of rush-hour irritation, but a national liability affecting the economic performance of our urban centres and requiring immediate intervention from Ottawa.

A new ranking of international cities by the Toronto Board of Trade saw major Canadian municipalities fall dramatically behind in the realm of transportation and transit, prompting big-city mayors and transit experts to call on all federal parties to address the issue in the election, or suffer the consequences. Continue reading

Why Wisconsin matters

National Post · Wednesday, Mar. 2, 2011

The following editorial appeared in Tuesday’s edition of the Wall Street Journal.


The raucous Wisconsin debate over collective bargaining may be ugly at times, but it has been worth it for the splendid public education. For the first time in decades, Americans have been asked to look under the government hood at the causes of runaway spending. What they are discovering is the monopoly power of government unions that have long been on a collision course with taxpayers. Though it arrived in Madison first, this crack-up was inevitable.

In 1960, 31.9% of America’s private work force belonged to a union, compared to only 10.8% of government workers. By 2010, the numbers had more than reversed, with 36.2% of public workers in unions but only 6.9% in the private economy. The sharp rise in public union membership in the 1960s and 1970s coincided with the movement to give public unions collective bargaining rights.

For decades, as the private union movement rose in power, even leftof-centre politicians resisted collective bargaining for public unions. Why? Because unlike in the private economy, a public union has a natural monopoly over government services. An industrial union will fight for a greater share of corporate profits, but it also knows that a business must make profits or it will move or shut down. The union chief for teachers, transit workers or firemen knows that the city is not going to close the schools, buses or firehouses.

This monopoly power, in turn, gives public unions inordinate sway over elected officials. The money they collect from member dues helps to elect politicians who are then supposed to represent the taxpayers during the next round of collective bargaining. In effect, union representatives sit on both sides of the bargaining table, with no one sitting in for taxpayers. In 2006 in New Jersey, this led to the preposterous episode in which Governor Jon Corzine addressed a Trenton rally of thousands of public workers and shouted, “We will fight for a fair contract.” He was promising to fight himself.

Thus the collision course with taxpayers. Public unions depend entirely on tax revenues to fund their pay and benefits. They thus have every incentive to elect politicians who favour higher taxes and more government spending. The great expansion of state and local spending followed the rise of public unions.

Current AFL-CIO chief Rich Trumka has tried to portray Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s reforms as an attack on all unions, but they clearly are not. If anything, by reining in public union power, Mr. Walker is trying to protect private workers of all stripes from the tax increases that will eventually have to finance larger government. Regarding public finances, the interests of public union workers and those of private union taxpayers are in direct conflict. Mr. Walker is the better friend of the union manufacturing worker in Oshkosh than is Mr. Trumka.

Notice, too, how fiercely the public unions are willing to fight for collective bargaining power even if it means public job layoffs. Without Mr. Walker’s budget reforms, Wisconsin will have to begin laying off thousands of workers as early as today. The unions would rather give up those jobs -typically for their younger members -than give up their political negotiating advantages. They know some future Governor or legislature will get those jobs back, as long as they retain their inordinate political clout.

This is the imbalance of political power that Mr. Walker is trying to break up. And he is right to do so

Toronto Parking Enforcement – Waiting until someone parks illegally …

rather  than ticket someone illegally parked!

During the 2010 municipal election parking enforcement was an issue and a frequent topic of discussion. At least one Toronto Ward 29 candidate and Rocco Rossi suggested that parking enforcement was too aggressive and that people  should get a “5 minute” grace  period. Although, I  personally think this is ridiculous (why not a 10 minute grace period), it is clear  that the behaviour of the parking enforcement people  is extremely antagonistic. That said, they (as they frequently repeat) are “just  doing their job”.

What is the job description of of a Toronto parking ticket officer? Well, I  assume their job is to ticket cars  that  are illegally parked  But, it presumably means more than just ticketing cars. Surely,  it means that they are required  to look  for cars that are illegally parked. Is there a difference between “actively seeking cars that are illegally parked” and sitting around waiting for    cars to park illegally? Continue reading

City parking: A primer

January 28, 2011 – 8:51 am

City councillors voted to “clarify” a bylaw that caused a furor over the summer because it appeared to restrict the number of cars that could be parked in a driveway.

“You can park in your driveway,” Toronto chief planner Gary Wright assured residents Thursday, after the planning and growth committee voted to amend what he called a “confusing” part of the city’s new harmonized zoning bylaw. “If you have six guests, and you want to park overnight in a driveway and your driveway is big enough, sure.” The previous city council approved the single city-wide zoning bylaw that sought to harmonize 43 disparate regulations across the city. Mr. Wright said the wording of the section dealing with driveway parking — which, prior to this, was technically not allowed in some parts of the city — limited the number of spots in the driveway to the number of spots in the garage, so that you could park one car in front of a single-car garage, and two in front of a double.

“I think that was too specific an approach on our part. The purpose of the amendment is to say, let’s not talk about one car or two cars. Let’s just say you can park in the driveway,” said Mr. Wright. The bylaw applies to new homes only. Any existing parking spots that were legal before continue to be. City council must sign off on the change before it takes effect.

Posted in: City Hall, Posted Toronto, Traffic & Weather Tags: ,

Second Donlands subway stop exit done deal

Street Perspectives Renderings showing the proposed second Donlands Station exit building as seen from Dewhurst Blvd in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. - Street Perspectives Renderings showing the proposed second Donlands Station exit building as seen from Dewhurst Blvd in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. | Toronto Transit Commission Website 

Second Donlands subway stop exit done deal


From Monday’s Globe and Mail
Published Sunday, Jan. 23, 2011 10:57PM EST
Last updated Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2011 10:30AM EST

The train has left the station on a controversial Toronto Transit Commission plan to build a second exit from the Donlands subway stop on a quiet residential street, upsetting homeowners who pushed hard for a compromise and thought they were getting somewhere.

Despite months of discussions and a consultant’s study that pointed to several less-disruptive locations, TTC officials have settled on the same plan that prompted the outcry in the first place – to raze two homes on Strathmore Boulevard and partially expropriate another 10 properties to make way for the exit. Continue reading

Battered but unbroken, Bussin has no regrets

December 31, 2010–battered-but-unbroken-bussin-has-no-regrets

Robyn Doolittle

{{GA_Article.Images.Alttext$}}Former Ward 30 councillor Sandra Bussin talks about the election and her future plans

Sandra Bussin says she knew she was toast long before voters made it official on Oct. 25.

Throughout the city, entrenched left-wing incumbents who had been power players under David Miller appeared beatable for the first time in years.

Perhaps none was more vulnerable than Bussin, the sharp-tongued council speaker and former deputy mayor. Continue reading

Liberals kept G20 law secret for weeks before summit

December 09, 2010–liberals-kept-g20-law-secret-for-weeks-before-summit

Robert Benzie

Premier Dalton McGuinty’s officials plotted to keep the G20 law secret weeks before the Star revealed that Toronto police believed they had the power to arrest anyone near the summit site.

That extraordinary disclosure, which dominated Thursday’s debate at Queen’s Park, is buried in Ombudsman André Marin’s 125-page report, Caught in the Act, on what he called “the most massive compromise of civil liberties in Canadian history.” Continue reading