Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson did something pretty cool recently. With the provincial election in full swing, he sent a questionnaire to party leaders, asking them five yes or no questions about issues important to Ottawa. The leaders then responded with various degrees of detail. (PC leader Tim Hudak was the only one who really came up short — he sent on a form letter.)
It was a good idea, and one I think Toronto should totally steal. Except, whoops, we don’t really have a mayor right now. Rob Ford is in rehab having a series of bizarre adventures. And Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly, who’s done a good job under the circumstances, isn’t really in a position to be asking tough questions of the provincial leaders, given that he's just holding things down temporarily.
But there are still questions that deserve to be asked. And absent a credible, long-term voice in the mayor’s office, I guess I might as well step up and do the asking. Here are five straight up, yes-or-no questions I’d be asking the provincial leaders if I were in the mayor’s shoes.
Completely unofficial City of Toronto questionnaire for provincial party leaders
1. Recently the provincial government announced they would phase out the $113.9-million in annual funding the City of Toronto was receiving under pooling compensation to pay for housing and social services. This has created an $86-million gap in our 2015 budget. Will you commit to restoring this funding to avoid cuts to services?
2. For much of the TTC’s history, the provincial government was an equal funding partner, covering 50% of the operating subsidy. This practice was ended in the 1990s, putting an unprecedented pressure on transit riders and Toronto’s property tax base. Will your government resume providing operating funding for Toronto transit?
4. On July 11, 2013, Toronto City Council voted 26-15 in favour of a motion requesting the provincial government allow Toronto to use ranked choice ballots in municipal elections. Will you grant this request without delay?
5. Under our Close the Housing Gap campaign, the City of Toronto is requesting both the provincial and federal governments to contribute $864-million over the next ten years to match the city’s planned contribution to a plan that will address Toronto Community Housing’s repair backlog. Will you enter into this agreement as an equal funding partner to help address Toronto’s continuing housing crisis and provide better living conditions for some of Ontario’s most vulnerable citizens?
This post was originally published at http://www.metronews.ca/views/toronto/ford-for-toronto-matt-elliott/2014/06/06/five-questions-torontos-mayor-should-ask-provincial-party-leaders.html on 2014-06-06T00:00:00.000Z