About eight days ago John Baird, the Conservative Infrastructure Minister, gave his second figurative “F— you” to struggling workers in Thunder Bay, Ontario. This gesture comes in addition to his literal “F— you” to Toronto mayor David Miller earlier this month.
(Yes, he actually said “F—”.)
David Miller, who has been lobbying for a $300 million stimulus package from the federal government, last week had his request officially denied by the Harper government. The City of Toronto had plans to spend the more than $300 million in stimulus money to offset the cost of purchasing 204 Bombardier LRVs which were to be built in Thunder Bay, ON — one of the hardest hit cities in Canada in terms of employment rates and property value.
What adds even more insult to injury is that the reason the federal government gave for denying the $300 million wasn’t that it was too great a sum. Indeed the figure is exactly equal to Toronto’s share of the federal stimulus package. Instead, the Conservatives argued that Toronto can’t get the $300 million federal assistance in buying 204 Bombardier trains BECAUSE the money will be spent predominantly in Thunder Bay and not Toronto. The federal Conservatives, in short, were trying to fight to stop federal money from being spent in Thunder Bay.
Just to reiterate: the Harper conservatives are trying to stop $300 million from being spent in Thunder Bay because they would rather see the money spent in Toronto on several small projects despite the wishes of the mayor of Toronto and the Toronto City Council.
None of this, so far, is new news.
What is news, however, is that the Thunder Bay economy will still be getting this major boost despite the best efforts of the federal conservatives. While Baird and the federal Conservative Party seem perfectly willing to play political games with this struggling Northern Ontario community — to say nothing of TTC public transit users in Toronto — the reports which began last week are now confirmed and the purchase of the 204 Bombardier LRVs has been made official. In order to keep its intended purchase with the Thunder Bay Bombardier plant, the Toronto City Council was forced to cancel six large-scale capital infrastructure projects scheduled for all around Toronto.
While the prospects of being a Conservative candidate in Toronto are never particularly good, I certainly would not want to be a Thunder Bay Conservative candidate in the next federal election and have to explain that one to the voters. Come to think of it, I also really wouldn’t want to be a Liberal candidate and have to explain why Thunder Bay-ites should vote for my party which voted to support the Conservative government and and keep them in power through confidence vote after confidence vote.