[URBAN NOTE] “Why doesn’t Ontario’s NDP get road pricing?”
Spacing Toronto’s John Lorinc is fed up with the NDP’s failure to get Toronto voters, most recently on the road toll issue.
How long do progressives and urban dwellers more generally have to wait before Ontario’s NDP stops compensating (atoning?) for former premier Bob Rae’s decision, circa the early 1990s, to slap tolls on Highway 407?
The question arose again late last week when Andrea Horwath’s populists stood shoulder to ideological shoulder with Patrick Brown’s Progressive Conservatives to support a symbolic motion calling on Kathleen Wynne’s government to reject the City of Toronto’s forthcoming request to put tolls on the Gardiner and the Don Valley Parkway.
I understand that opposition parties need to be, well, oppositional. But as happened in the last provincial election in 2014, Horwath revealed she’s got a tin ear when it comes to not just funding urban infrastructure but deploying green policies meant to change driver behaviour, reduce emissions, and spur transit use.
Instead of tabling a motion calling on the provincial government to, say, properly fund the operating costs of transit, toll all the 400-series highways or urge the Wynne Liberals to give the City of Toronto other revenue tools, such as sales tax, Team Horwath threw in their lot with a rurally-based party that has little interest in transit and scant purchase with urban voters.
Why? Shouldn’t progressive voters in big cities like Toronto be able to back an electoral option to the Liberals? Of course. Yet last week’s stunt — which, let’s face it, is what that motion amounted to — stands as a fairly crisp signal that the NDP isn’t interested in Toronto. I understand why the Tories don’t much care about the city, but the NDP’s indifference is much more difficult to grasp.