Why does the federal government, Liberal and Conservative alike, refuse to acknowledge the will of the City of Toronto in regards to the Toronto Island Airport [Globe & Mail, Ottawa handed out $20-million to Island airline boss]:
Yesterday, Transport Canada gave Porter Airlines final approval for its plan to launch commercial air service at the Toronto island airport. But the same federal ministry was far more generous two years ago, when it gave Porter founder Robert Deluce $20-million in order to start up his new airline.
In short, the federal government wants the Toronto Airport to succeed without any sort of input, support, or concern for the opinion of the city - it's irregardless of who the government is and what they arguably stand for. It started in December 2003 with the the Liberal payout and it ended in September of 2006, with the Conservative appointments to the Toronto Port Authority.
The size of the payout to Mr. Deluce, revealed in a confidential document obtained by The Globe and Mail, clears up a central mystery of the murky events that followed Toronto City Council's decision in December, 2003, to rescind its approval of a proposed bridge to the airport. In particular, it explains how a bridge originally estimated to cost slightly more than $20-million to build ended up costing taxpayers $35-million to stop.
A confidential memorandum justifying the extraordinary settlement, marked "protect in full," details multiple payouts to three private companies and the Toronto Port Authority (TPA) following cancellation of the bridge. Using generous estimates of sunk costs, lost profits and alleged legal liabilities, it justifies the largesse primarily as a means to prop up the money-losing TPA until such time as it begins to receive revenue from Mr. Deluce's new airline.
While Ottawa publicly agreed to cancel the bridge in accordance with municipal demands, the memo shows that it worked behind the scenes to supply the TPA and Mr. Deluce with the means to finance airport expansion at the same time. The former federal government justified the $35-million payout as a settlement of legal claims, but the memo, dated Nov. 11, 2004, makes clear that the purpose of the settlement was to return the TPA to financial health -- with a well-funded new airline as a paying customer.
During the last federal election, only NDP candidate Olivia Chow spoke of the need for the federal government to keep its hands off the Toronto Islands and to stop the airport, because of the will of the City of Toronto. You can disagree with that position if you want, but it still represents the will of the city.
Can someone explain to me why ignoring the city is a good thing? More than that - why does the federal government believe it needs to support and fund the Toronto Island Airport this way, instead of in the open?
Tags: canada, conservative party, liberal party, ontario, toronto, toronto port authority