A shockingly bad train idea, terrible for Weston

David Collenette, the ‘brains’ behind the under-used, over-priced, executive-class UP Express service, has announced another of his plans: a $19 billion, twice-hourly, high-speed train between Toronto and Windsor. The provincial government made much of it today.Choo choo!

Collenette has two proposals, the cheaper (and slower) of which would put a 250 km/h train on the corridor that runs through Weston. It would run from Union to Pearson, then on to Kitchener, Guelph, London and Windsor. Collenette says the train would be profitable and could be built speedily.

He’s said that before. He was so utterly wrong that he should never be allowed near a cocktail napkin again.

  • The UPX was supposed to be $200 million.  It cost three times that.
  • It was supposed to be running by 2008. It took until 2015.
  • It was supposed to be profitable. It has never been profitable.

 

Moreover, there is already train service to every destination the government has in mind. GO Trains run to Kitchener and Guelph. VIA trains go to London and Windsor. The competition is brutal, too: flights to Windsor are about $150 and take an hour, and the Ontario government has also already announced all-day service to Kitchener and other improvements to regional rail service.

In the unlikely event that this high-speed line ever gets built, it will require undoing much of the work already done on the corridor: “a number of infrastructure upgrades”, in Collenette’s words.

 

 

 

Ahmed Hussen’s bad day

With all the other talk of foreign governments influencing politicians, you might have missed the Maclean’s article last week on how Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the repugnant Turkish autocrat, has been influencing Canadian politics and our MP Ahmed Hussen.

Hussen was in Istanbul on the night of the coup attempt, reportedly on vacation with his mother. But, according to local sources, he was also there as a guest of some high-level AK Party politicians, including Kenan Sahin, the mayor of Istanbul’s Pendik district, and Cemalettin Kani Torun, the deputy chairman of the Parliamentary Foreign Affairs Commission. The next day, he described what he experienced that night to Canadian media in glowing terms.

After the attempted coup, Erdogan’s government imprisoned more than 120 journalists, fired 40,000 teachers, and purged 140,000 civil servants. He has built a 1,100 room presidential palace and changed the constitution so that he can remain President until 2029.

Hussen, perhaps, could not have guessed that there would be a repressive crackdown. But at a later meeting at the Turkish consulate, Hussen played slow pitch, according to Adnan Khan, the Maclean’s author:

The August gathering of Somalis at the Turkish consulate in Toronto—to discuss a coup attempt led by Turks in Turkey—seemed odd to some of those who were present. “It was strange,” Omar Hassan, chairman of the Somali-Canadian Business Council, told Maclean’s. “The Turkish delegation referred to the Gülenists as terrorists and everyone clapped. Hussen talked about the close relationship between Turkey and Somalia but never contradicted the ‘terrorist’ label.”

In the past, Hussen has posed with Erdogan and praised him, saying 

“Great mtg w Turkey’s President Erdoğan. Excellent discussion on ways to strengthen Canada-Turkey relationship.  I also lauded his amazing work in rebuilding Somalia.

The praise has been reciprocal; the Turkish government lauded Hussen for his (factually incorrect) support of Turkish aid in Somalia.

 

 

 

Nunziata votes for three-billion-dollar, one-stop subway

Frances Nunziata voted at City Council this week in favour of a wasteful subway.

The Scarborough subway, which will cost $3.5 billion, will have one stop, at the Scarborough Town Centre. It will lead to longer rides, have fewer stops, and be more expensive than better alternatives.

The Scarborough subway was endorsed by Rob Ford. I will say no more.

Smitherman to bid for council in 2018

George Smitherman. From ctvnews.ca

Weston native born politician, George Smitherman has announced he will run for council in next year’s civic election. While he will not run in York South-Weston, he plans to take a shot at one of the three new wards created after a boundary review and council vote last November. The condo boom of the past few years, has seen population growth in the downtown core and Smitherman hopes to end up with a home and seat there.

While a progressive councillor for Ward 11 might have been a big change from the current incumbent, all is not lost. Many vital decisions at council have been won or lost by only a few votes. Mayor John Tory opposed adding three extra wards. Why?  Possibly because the new wards are downtown and could add three progressive voices and votes which might improve the tone and dare I say humanity of Council decisions. As an added bonus, Smitherman has close ties with the Liberal Party of Canada along with Immigration Minister and York South Weston MP Ahmed Hussen so no doubt there will be a strong link to the federal government.

Here begins the speculation that the long term plan is to knock John Tory off his mayoral perch in 2022.

Stay tuned; it should be an interesting ride.

Hussen profile in Macleans

Macleans has a very flattering profile of our MP, Ahmed Hussen.

From Macleans

It’s virtually impossible to imagine a way in which the 40-year-old could be better suited to the cabinet job he now holds. He came to Canada fleeing the Somali civil war, and subsequently lived in Regent Park, a once-troubled and isolated downtown Toronto public housing project he would help rejuvenate and repatriate to the residents when redevelopment came calling. Later, he opened a law practice focusing on immigration law and criminal cases, particularly for young offenders.

Frances Nunziata’s rightward tilt

How conservative is Frances Nunziata? She was besties with Rob Ford , who drove a mammoth Cadillac Escalade. She, however, drove a Prius. Fire-breather or tree-hugger? Morebucks or Warbucks? The answer has eluded me.

Here, then, for your edification are Frances Nunziata’s votes from the last city budget. Right-wing votes to cut spending are, naturally, Conservative blue. Left-wing votes to increase funding are NDP orange.

 

I only counted votes about actual money; a lot of City Council votes are asking a staffer to write a report about whether to spend money later. I ignored them.

My unscientific impression of the results: Nunziata isn’t as left-wing as  would like, but she’s more middle of the road than I had assumed.

Nunziata’s lottery motion gets the nod

Frances Nunziata’s half-baked plan to have a Toronto lottery took its first step toward the windmill this week when City Council voted 28: 16 in favour of asking city staff to pretend like they don’t already know what the answer is going to be.

Council asked staff to prepare a report on “the revenue potential of a City of Toronto lottery and the legislative changes that would be required”.