Writing in The Ottawa Citizen, I argue that the provincial Progressive Conservative Party is trying to play suburbia vs. city centres as a cynical ploy to gain power. It’s following the (successful) “Ford Nation” gambit. It’s great for sucking up to (some) voters, but it’s horrible for actual governing:
Unfortunately, the Tory plan is aimed primarily at supposed “prosperity” rather than community; in fact, the PC white papers carry the heading, Paths to Prosperity. Leader Tim Hudak’s introductory message is focused on enterprise and wealth, not livability. MPP Bill Holyday’s introductory message focuses on infrastructure for automobiles and commuters, not cyclists, pedestrians or residents. It is a message tailored to those who will live outside of urban centres but seek to travel into the city for work (primarily) and leisure (occasionally).
Despite claims of eschewing the typical urban vs. suburban split, their policies are predicated on just such a divide. Regarding Toronto, the Tories write: “Toronto needs jobs, and better roads and transit so people can get to those jobs. The downtown core needs more subway capacity to relieve infrastructure built for the 1950s.” This is not in order to create a better city for the residents within Toronto. It is because the city “needs to manage its growth so that our suburbs are not treated as afterthoughts.”
We shouldn’t fall for it. If the Tories have a robust vision that can make stronger urban, suburban, exurban and rural communities, it’d behoove them to actually make them known.