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Toronto Race for Mayor : What does a vote for John Tory mean?

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posted on Sep, 24 2014 @ 01:53 AM
I've been writing these posts about the civic election in Toronto for a while now.

I won't go into how I got interested in Toronto, except to say that I started to take notice of the place (I do live here) when the former Attorney General of the Province of Ontario (Toronto is in Ontario) killed a bicycle courier on the city's main drag in spectacular fashion, in 2009, and "the authorities" decided that the matter should be adjudicated in the Crown Prosecutor's office, and that the killer should go free.

A trial wasn't necessary in their view.

I thought that was a little cavalier. I thought that dragging a shrieking person with your car for nearly a city block, up the wrong side of the street, until his head smashed on a fire hydrant and then leaving the scene, might be something the criminal courts would be interested in taking a look at for possible violations of the law.

I was wrong, but I did become curious about this place, Toronto, Ontario, after that incident.

And then Rob Ford came along.

As soon as he decided to run for Mayor, I got the impression, from reading The Toronto Star that people really didn't like Mr. Ford at the Star. Ford was always complaining about stuff at City Hall. They called him an "angry man". Being angry is not done in "nicey nice" Toronto, where everything is "under control" at all times.

Readers of my comments on "the Ford situation" will know the story. I like the Mayor. I think he has done a good job. I don't care if his high school friends are dope dealers. I don't care if he smokes illegal substances. I don't care if he rants about the press and the police department in public places and swears at them in Jamaican patois. I wish I knew Jamaican patois. I've heard it. I can't understand it at all.

I supported the Mayor through thick and thin and I support his brother Doug. I intend to vote for Doug Ford on election day.

That brings me to the point of this thread. Who is John Tory?

I went to to find out. Wikipedia usually carries the authorized versions of biographies. It is pretty fair, usually, and often includes information that doesn't necessarily reflect positively on its subjects, when the information is important enough. I, as an average, internet-connected voter, looked around the web a little to follow the trail of just who John Tory is. I did this, not to become familiar with the John Tory hagiography, his record of accomplishments, but to look for signs that John Tory might be the wrong choice to be Mayor of Toronto.

I wasn't looking for muck to rake. I am a Ford supporter, after all. I'm interested in things that relate to policy making. I'm going to give you a sample of the sorts of things that caught my attention as I hunted for information about John Tory. I'll leave it to you to decide if I am being fair in bringing these things to attention and if these things merit concern.

From the wikipedia biography:

In 2012 he was made a member of the Order of Ontario in recognition for being "a consummate champion for the Greater Toronto Region as a founding member and chair of CivicAction and chairs and volunteers on countless fundraising campaigns".[4]

John Tory is a fund raiser. Toronto needs funds. Will he "campaign" the federal and provincial governments to increase the percentage of funds they contribute to infrastructure projects in Toronto? The money he would be campaigning to get from those other levels of government is, after all, money that the tax payers of Toronto have paid already. It's very simple really. Torontonians, in fact, have already paid for infrastructure in federal and provincial taxes. Where is it?

My own feeling is that John Tory will suspend his fund raising activities while he is Mayor.

He has said that Toronto will pay for 33.3% of the cost of his Smart Track plan for transit improvement, as an "equal" partner with the federal and provincial governments, who will pay the other two thirds. The ultimate idea is that Toronto's contribution will be paid for by TIF, "Tax Increment Financing", or increases in taxes collected from properties developed privately in the wake of transit expansion. As has been noted elsewhere, that is a dicey proposition. What if development does not occur as planned or lags because of bigger economic issues?

When the Sheppard Line on the subway was built, there was residential development (residential property taxes) but not a lot of commercial development.

Residential development means increased costs to a CITY in services along with increases in property tax revenues.

Income tax increases that followed "development", if they happened, would only flow to the provincial and federal governments. Remember Sugar Beach and the Toronto Waterfront Revitalization Plan?

Accordingly, the three governments have spent, to date, $1.26 billion and the study estimates that this direct investment on public lands generated impacts as follows: $3.2 billion of Canadian economic output, 16,200 full time years of employment and $622 million of tax revenues to government ($348 million to federal, $237 million to provincial, and $36 million to municipal).

This development cost 1.26 billion dollars. Toronto was obligated to pay 33.3% of the cost, as Mr. Tory advocates for Toronto's share of his transit expansion plan, "Smart Track".

Following Mr.Tory's plan, we will pay 1/3 the cost of "Smart Track" but only receive a return in "tax increments" analogous to the return received from the increments that followed the waterfront revitalization. There is no reason to suppose that the basic ratio would be different. That amounted to 5.7% on a project, 33.3% of the costs of which were born by the city.

The province gave Mr. Tory an award because he was such an outstanding fund raiser. Imagine the profits that would accrue to the province and the federal government if Mr. Tory were to convince people in Toronto to fund "Smart Track". 94.3% of the "tax increments that would flow from a large infrastructure project like "Smart Track" would flow to the federal and provincial governments. He might get another award.

Of course, the maintenance and upkeep of the waterfront, including Sugar Beach, must be born by the City of Toronto. Toronto's "partners" in that development don't have to bear those costs. There are other costs in general city services that increase as well when development occurs, and as we already know, the federal and provincial governments are doing everything they can to download as many costs of services to municipalities as they can.

edit on 24-9-2014 by ipsedixit because: (no reason given)

posted on Sep, 24 2014 @ 01:54 AM
Ontario has the lowest per capita service costs of any province in the nation and is proud of it. Municipalities like Toronto must bear the costs of services to a large extent, in this day and age.

The government of Ontario already spends less per resident delivering public services than any other province, and is working internally to achieve even greater cost effectiveness while continuing to offer quality, timely service. Reflecting measures to improve efficiency, Ontario’s per capita program spending in 2012–13 was $8,311, which was the lowest among the provinces.

We're getting screwed by accountants, really. Remember all this money, federal, provincial and municipal, originated in YOUR POCKET. The game seems to be how to get debits off the federal and provincial books. The answer: transfer them to the municipalities.

Another way of putting it would be to say that the federal and provincial governments have been taking money for services, the costs of which, they foist off on the municipalities. It's like eating a meal and then running out of a restaurant and calling over your shoulder, "My dumb little brother will pay the tab." Anyway . . .

Toronto's main source of revenue is property taxes.

It's a good thing that Mr. Tory is such a great fund raiser for the Toronto region, because the Toronto region is not doing too well. It's not that bad but its not great.

Nonetheless, the Toronto region cannot ignore its long-term struggles on key economic indicators. Between 2000 and 2010 (the last ten years for which data are available), Toronto’s productivity, defined as real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per worker, declined by 6 percent. These figures put Toronto in last place out of twelve North American peer city regions: Montréal, Vancouver, and Calgary in Canada and New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, Seattle, San Francisco, Dallas, and Atlanta in the United States.1 Clearly, Toronto has a major challenge to catch up to its competitor regions.

That decline in productivity translates into decline in tax revenue. Most of this would be felt by the federal and provincial governments, but there would be property tax (municipal) declines based on "development/start ups", etc., moving to economically "hotter" areas.

Property tax reform, designed to reduce the Business Property Tax, has had a negative effect on municipalities, particularly Toronto, because since the year 2000 or so, business property taxes have declined.

Provincial governments are fine with this because they collect income tax.

This is another way that the province can be said to have an edge over municipalities in matters related to development. A lower Business Property Tax attracts business, which pays income tax to the federal and provincial governments, and if municipalities lose tax revenue while facing increasing service costs due to development, so what?

According to a study done at the Munk School of Global Affairs because of reform of the Business Property Tax, Toronto is estimated to have lost $1,069,600,000 in revenue.

John Tory can't be blamed for the reform of the tax regulations in Ontario ( At least I don't think he can. I might be wrong about that.) but in touting TIF, Tax Increment Financing, as a way for Toronto to meet its 33.3% cost obligations for "Smart Track", he certainly isn't playing to one of Toronto's strong points.

The overall economic picture, the track record of the Sheppard Line and the tendency to reduce business property taxes indicate to me that residents of Toronto are likely to be on the hook for the costs of "Smart Track".

Putting Mr. Tory in the driver's seat in Toronto, without seeking increased percentages of funding from federal and provincial sources, as Doug Ford has implied that he will do, is almost certain to mean that generations of Torontonians will be burdened with a massive municipal debt load.

I believe that Kathleen Wynne and John Tory have agreed between themselves that that is how it is going to be.

Oh well, at least we can be thankful for one thing. Vic Toews bought a whole bunch of hi-fidelity microphones and had them installed in the nation's airport lounges because, you know, terrorists with nothing to do as they waited to board flights they intended to hijack, would probably chat about their plans as they waited. That must be the theory, I guess. The federal government wouldn't just waste money to buy useless junk from "pals of pals", would they?

Maybe that grouchy guy Doug Ford will get angry and tell them to spend the money on useful infrastructure, instead of on the boondoggle of the century, the fake security industrial complex.

More to come.

edit on 24-9-2014 by ipsedixit because: (no reason given)

posted on Sep, 24 2014 @ 08:21 AM
A vote for Tory, means same old, same old. He's a politician. What do you really expect from these people? They couldn't solve a real issue if the answer was right in front of them! They are all useless as they are the ones propagating the insanity we currently see. I guarantee nothing good will come of voting for him, Chow or Ford. The game must change.

posted on Sep, 25 2014 @ 02:07 AM
John Tory: Lobbyist

As I was looking over the wikipedia biography of John Tory, I glanced at the side bar containing his photo and the bullet points of his curriculum vitae. At the bottom of the list of his jobs was lobbyist. That aroused my curiosity.

I have a dim view of lobbyists. In my mind the word, lobbyist, is synonymous with "influence peddler". I wouldn't have associated Mr. Tory with influence peddling if "lobbyist" were not included in his wikipedia cv. I imagine him being too prim and meticulously ethical for that sort of job. Maybe I am wrong. Maybe he is what used to be called, in the 18th century, "a man of parts" (multi talented).

Maybe I don't know what lobbying is. I looked it up. It turns out that it is a form of "advocacy". A private interest will employ a lobbyist to intercede with legislators on its behalf to influence government policy. In Canada this activity is regulated. Lobbyists must be registered and Mr. Tory is a registered lobbyist, but listed as "currently inactive" (Activity Ended: 2014-01-02). He lobbied on behalf of Rogers Communications Inc. in the area of wireless communications.

Spectrum policy framework as related to incumbent wireless carriers with respect to all technological and financial implications of proposed government policies.

I read it but I didn't know what it meant. I looked it up.

It turns out that there was quite a battle going on in the telecommunications industry between consumer advocates and corporate advocates (lobbyists) over how the wireless communications services in Canada should be regulated and Mr. Tory was right in the thick of it, arguing on behalf of Rogers Communications, against the stated interests of the consumer groups.

Consumer advocates and others have argued that Canadian market is not sufficiently competitive and that aggressive policy action is needed to foster greater competition and to adequately protect consumers until market forces can be fully relied upon. The incumbent telecom companies and the CWTA (Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association) present a far different story, contesting multiple international studies and painting Canada as a market leader. . . .

As early as 2007, Prime Minister Harper shuffled then-Industry Minister Maxime Bernier (who most believed was opposed to government intervention in the form of a set-aside or other measures) with Jim Prentice. Within months, Prentice unveiled the government’s policy with the headline “Government Opts for More Competition in the Wireless Sector.” In case there was any lingering doubt about where the government stood, the release noted:

Recent studies comparing international pricing of wireless services show Canadian consumers and businesses pay more for many of these services than people in other countries. These services are key to strengthening the competitiveness of Canadian business.

In the years that followed, the government continued to support measures for greater competition – backing the Wind Mobile entry despite concerns about foreign financing (“The policy of our government is to encourage choice and competition in wireless and Internet markets. Ours was the government that set aside spectrum during the 2008 auction to allow new entrants to compete. New entrants mean more competition, lower prices and better quality services for Canadians.”) and later relaxing foreign ownership restrictions for the smaller players in the telecommunications market (“the goals remain steadfastly the same: increased innovation, increased competition, better service and better prices for consumers”). The icing on the cake came in 2011, with the public fight over usage based billing (not a wireless issue, but related to Internet access pricing). With over a half a million signing on an online petition calling for a policy change, the government recognized that telecommunications had emerged as a major consumer issue that could be a ballot box winner.

John Tory was in that fight, battling gamely on behalf of Rogers Communications and against the interests of consumer advocates, to resist the introduction of these policies or to mitigate as best he could the impact of these policies on the corporation he represented.

John Tory fought against more vigorous competition in the wireless market. John Tory fought to keep prices paid by consumers high.

Beyond these headline-grabbing events, two other developments highlight just how badly the CWTA and the incumbent providers read the situation. On Sunday, the CWTA leaked a study to the media that purported to find that Canadians actually pay too little for wireless services. Relying on consumer surplus metrics, the study claims that Canadians would actually be willing to pay far more for wireless services given how much they love their smartphones. It is hard to think of any study more out-of-touch with prevailing public and government sentiment than industry claims that Canadian wireless services are a bargain.

John Tory the lobbyist. Wrong on the issue. Fighting against you the consumer. Working to find a way to keep you paying more, as he is still doing with his finance plan for "Smart Track".

Should Toronto be electing a man with a bad track record as a lobbyist, Mayor?

Mr. Tory himself has accused Mayor Ford of conflict of interest for lobbying the city on behalf of two clients of his family's label business, Deco labels.

In June, The Globe reported that Mayor Ford and his brother Councillor Doug Ford lobbied the city on behalf of RR Donnelley, a printing firm that was in negotiations to do business with Deco Labels around the same time. The Globe also reported on the mayor’s attempts to get city staff to help Apollo Health and Beauty Care – a Deco Labels client.

Mr. Ford's characterization of these efforts amounted to simply helping constituents and explained that Deco Labels has a lot of clients in the city.

Mr. Tory had a much broader and more theoretical appreciation of the issue.

“The allegation of mixing up public duty and private interests – that goes to the heart of the question of integrity, and the questions that people focus on a lot in electing governments and watching governments perform,” Mr. Tory said in an interview.

I don't think Mr. Tory, the registered lobbyist, is mixing up public duty and private interests.

I think it is his intention to work actively against the public interest, as he did as a lobbyist for Rogers Communications. I think Mr. Tory is in cahoots with the Liberal Government of Kathleen Wynne to fund "Smart Track" the way waterfront revitalization was funded, with the city paying 33.3% of the costs but receiving only 5.7% of the tax increments that flow therefrom.

Ask yourself, "Who does John Tory generally work for?"

edit on 25-9-2014 by ipsedixit because: (no reason given)

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