[URBAN NOTE] “NDP’s tortured love-hate relationship with Toronto”
Martin Regg Cohn’s Toronto Star column makes some harsh, but not necessarily inaccurate, judgments about NDP feelings towards Ontario’s capital and largest city.
Despite [leader Andrea Horwath’s] right turn, her fellow New Democrats at city hall are going in the opposite direction. Mere days after she explained herself to Tory — no need to toll commuters because a future Horwath government will turn over all the cash you need from general tax revenues — a gaggle of NDP councillors sensibly backed the mayor’s plan.
What do these city hall New Democrats see in road tolls that their fellow travellers at Queen’s Park are blind to? Might it be fidelity to transit priorities? Fear of congestion? Environmental peril?
Perhaps they sense that, despite Horwath’s twists and turns, public opinion has turned. Polls on tolls traditionally show strong resistance, but recent surveys point to majority support in Toronto.
In a previous column, I described how the NDP-PC anti-toll tag team was “the last straw” for a lifelong New Democrat, former MPP Paul Ferreira, who has left the party in protest. Ferreira, once chief of staff to ex-leader Howard Hampton and (briefly) Horwath, told me in an interview that by opposing tolls — without thinking through the implications — the party was being intellectually dishonest.
And geographically duplicitous.
In the last election, Horwath lost crucial Toronto seats while pursuing her populist, pocketbook appeals elsewhere. Many New Democrats still buy into the caricature of Toronto as a bastion of wine-swilling, blood-sucking elitists who don’t feel the pain of hard-working rural folk.