By Edward Keenan
Rob Ford likes to say he’s a mayor who can be judged on the mantra “promises made, promises kept.” And his brother continues to call him “the most honest politician in Canada.” But from where we’re standing, it appears the mayor has actually broken quite a few promises, and told a lot of lies. So many lies. So many broken promises. Some large, some small. Some serious, some absurd. Many people have debunked claims and fact-checked statements, but as Ford prepares to campaign for re-election on his record, we thought, why not make a modest, ongoing effort to compile them? This, in the spirit of Andrew Sullivan’s long-running quest to detail the many lies of Sarah Palin, and at the suggestion of Kevin Wilson, is a regular feature documenting the trail of untruths and lost hopes. We’ll add more every day.
Rob Ford announced, on his first day on the job, that the Transit City LRT plan was “over.” He’d promised during the campaign to build a subway along Sheppard Avenue from Downsview to Scarborough Town Centre, and to have it done by 2015, in time for the Pan-Am Games.
What’s more, he didn’t expect that subway line to cost taxpayers any money. As he announced in his transit deal with McGuinty in March 2011, the city and province would pay nothing to build this Sheppard line. As reported in the Globe at the time:
“Under our plan,” says Mr. Ford with his usual bland confidence, “the private sector will pay for the construction of the subway and the city will own and operate it when it is finished.”
He went on to hold that line. That April, he told reporters asking about taxpayer dollars,
“I’m not quite sure where taxpayers’ money is coming in when we’re using private money.”
He then almost immediately commenced spending taxpayer money on it: Ford shrugged off more than $130 million in estimated costs to the city for LRT cancellation. He hired Gordon Chong at a salary equivalent to $100,000 per year to produce a report on the viability of the subway line. His study blew through the $160,000 it had in its budget and kept racking up the bill. Chong himself, in his report, suggested ways for taxpayers to pay for the costs, throwing cold water on the idea the private sector would build it for free. It also turned out Ford’s plan was counting on $333 million in federal taxpayer funds that had previously been allocated to the Sheppard LRT. And then he asked the province for $650 million more in taxpayer funds.
Ford never did figure out—or at least he never explained—how that private sector plan was going to work. Facing the possible $4 billion price tag, council decided to go back to the LRT plan. So: no Sheppard subway, but if one had been started, it would have cost taxpayers’ a lot under Ford’s most recent plans, and certainly nothing would’ve been built by 2015.
Further, the subway extension he and Karen Stintz did eventually get approval for will not be finished until 2023 at the earliest, and Toronto taxpayers will pay about $1 billion over 30 years to help finance it—the rest of the bill is taxpayer dough coming from the feds and the province, none from the private sector—starting with a Ford-endorsed property tax hike next year.
Photo: Rob Ford inspects subway construction work on the Spadina line in 2011, work that began when David Miller was mayor. Lucas Oleniuk/Toronto Star.
Read more of Rob Ford’s Weird Lies and Broken Promises here.