Thursday, May 05, 2005

Ding dong, the bridge is dead

The federal government has finally put an end to the Toronto Port Authority's plans for a fixed link to the Toronto Islands, nearly a year after City Council said they would not allow the bridge to happen. The government will be making a $35-million dollar payout to kill the deal.

From John Barber's column in the Globe & Mail:

"Remember the deal that was going to cost no money to anybody?" asked island airport MP Tony Ianno, poking Mayor David Miller for the apparently overbold
promise he made prior to his election. "Somehow to resolve it all will cost $35-million."

But how exactly? Who gets all that money? And why do they all get it?

"I don't know all the specifics," Mr. Ianno replied. "Everybody that had a claim -- as long as they had a legitimate claim -- is off the table." The good news is that the bridge is dead, he said. We boldly stepped forward to clean up the city's mess.

Barber goes on to note that "nestled oh-so-confidentially within the skirts of this backroom deal there lurks another big, fat subsidy to the bankrupt, ever-troublesome Toronto Port Authority."

Of course, the Toronto Port Authority was Ianno's creation (along with since-deposed MP Dennis Mills). Rather than taking credit for cleaning up the mess, Ianno should be apologizing for having created it in the first place. One wonders if the beneficiaries of the government's $35-million largesse are among those who keep Tony's quarter-million dollar slush fund topped up.

NOW magazine notes that it has taken 18 months for the Feds to honour their promise to kill the bridge deal.

The Grits reiterated that pledge during last year's federal election when it looked like Trinity-Spadina MP Tony Ianno might lose his downtown seat to Councillor Olivia Chow. But after Ianno eked out a 1,000-vote win, the Grits suddenly fell silent on the matter.

"The bridge to PEI was announced 14 times before it was built," one local Liberal insider said this week to explain the federal government's "why do today what you can announce again tomorrow" approach.

Neat how everything just managed to work out now, before Chow has decided if she wants to try for third-time-lucky against the resilient Ianno. Invisible Tony, as his detractors like to call him, has been all over town in the past couple of weeks, inviting Environment Minister St├ęphane Dion to the riding and showing up for photo ops with Volpe and other local Liberal MPs.

Perhaps they're hoping that handing out federal money in T.O. will save them
from NDP challengers, as anti-Tory fear-mongering did less than 12 months ago.


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