Forget House of Cards, Scandal or even The West Wing and other TV/Netflix political potboilers.
We have a much better political soap opera and hissing match playing out right here in Toronto over funding for the Scarborough Subway.
In the right corner is Karen Stintz, the TTC Chairman.
Don’t be misled by her cute, blonde, blue eyed and slight exterior. She is one tough and feisty street fighter. She is not afraid to take on political opponents, much bigger and much fatter than she is. What she lacks in size, she makes up in smarts and political guts. She knows the transit file cold.
And on the transit file, she has considerable cred in the City of Toronto, across both party and ideological lines.
In the left corner, is the highly over-rated, overweight and over the top, Ontario Transport Minister Glen Murray. Clearly a pompous pontificator, and way over his head on this Scarborough subway file.
And the loosest of Wynne’s loose cannons.
According to a Globe and Mail article, Stintz made it very clear to Murray that the Ontario Government should stand by its previously stated obligation to contribute $1.8 billion to the proposed Scarborough Subway.
Which subway was approved in Toronto City Council by a decisive 26-18 margin. Where Toronto liberals and leftists joined with City councillors in the centre and on the right behind Mayor Ford and Karen Stintz.
As further reported in the Globe article,
“Informed of Ms. Stintz’s comments during his news conference, Mr. Murray shot back: ‘Maybe Karen Stintz should run in a by-election then.
‘My message to Karen Stintz is: decide whose side you’re on. Are you with the people of Scarborough?’ he said in the blazing sun on the Kennedy GO Train platform, flanked by several local MPPs and Mitzie Hunter, the Liberals’ candidate in an area by-election. ‘It’s time to stand with the people of Scarborough or stand with those who think the people of Scarborough are second-class citizens.’
Mr. Murray grew increasingly testy throughout the news conference. Asked about city council’s stipulation that the province put $1.8-billion into the subway, Mr. Murray dismissed it out of hand: ‘I’m in charge here,’ he said. Later, when a journalist asked whether the government was agreeing to the subway to win the by-election, Mr. Murray questioned the reporter’s credentials.”
So here is Mr. Murray standing with several Liberal Scarborough MPPs, all of whom have been pushing Premier Wynne and Murray hard for weeks, to support the more popular choice of a Scarborough subway.
Murray is also standing with Mitzie Hunter, who is trying to hold on to the Scarborough seat formerly held by a Liberal MPP, in a very tight by-election race against a surging Conservative candidate.
This should have been a political slam dunk for Murray. The Liberals have publicly stated that they are in favour of a subway option, provided the Toronto City Council could get its act together and agree on this course of action. Which it did, as above stated.
So here is a great political opportunity for Murray, Wynne and the Liberals to be supporting a politically popular policy that has widespread support in the Scarborough community and widespread support from Toronto City Councillors.
It is also the first time that Rob Ford has supported paying in part for this Scarborough subway through a property tax increase, one of the key demands of Premier Wynne and the Ontario Liberals.
For some strange reason, the stars are aligning for this subway and the Ontario Liberals.
This should be a win-win for the Wynne Liberals.
So instead of showing leadership on this subway file, and being positive, upbeat and co-operative, Murray, in the middle of a press conference, decides quite irrationally to pick a fight with Karen Stintz and question her commitment to a Scarborough subway and the people of Scarborough?
And to challenge her, a city Councillor and TTC chairman, to run in the provincial by election?
Has this guy lost his marbles?
Has Murray gone stark raving bonkers?
Then to add further insult to injury, instead of being co-operative and diplomatic, he testily declares that “he is in charge.” In other words, it is my way, or the highway. (More accurately, the LRT, but I digress.)
Then Murray completes his disastrous public appearance, by calling into question the press credentials of a City Hall reporter, who had the audacity to ask him a fairly basic question, as to whether the Liberals’ support for the Scarborough subway, was directly a result of the upcoming by-election.
Verdict: the bantam weight Stintz, knocked out Murray. Humiliated him. And then pinned Murray to the mat in the first round.
And because of Murray’s Liberal arrogance, incompetence, and disastrous public appearance, the Scarborough by-election is not only wide open, but I believe that Murray’s outburst has hurt the Liberals’ chances in the other races being determined in the August 1, provincial by election.
Because it is apparent that Murray, not the more touchy feely Wynne, clearly represents the true face of the arrogant and entitled Ontario Liberal party, who clearly has not learned from the many Liberal scandals, during former Premier McGuinty’s reign: eHealth, OLG, Ornge, and the gas plant cancellations and cover up.
As a side note, while Stintz was going womano a mano after Murray, Mayor Ford, was uncharacteristically, acting the good cop to Stintz’s bad cop.
In fact, Mayor Ford was being down right diplomatic.
As reported in the same Globe article, “Mayor Rob Ford’s office, which has been in discussions for weeks with Premier Kathleen Wynne’s staff, went into damage control mode as the war of words intensified. In a statement Thursday afternoon, the mayor said, “discussions are ongoing — we are moving in the right direction.”
All I can say, is “Holy Metternich and Henry Kissinger, Batman!”
Wow, our very own Mayor never ceases to surprise. Who would have thought that Mayor Ford, would be the voice of reason, diplomacy, calm, co-operation and firm resolve?
As to the out of control, Murray, if I was Premier Wynne, I would go all “control freaking Harper” on Murray’s posterior, and put him on a very, very tight leash.
In order words, from here on out, he should just be seen and never heard.
These Subway Follies, ain’t over yet, folks.