Mayor Ford gravy train wreck begins

In October, Torontonians elected Rob Ford as their mayor in a rage against the policies and financial stewardship of outgoing mayor David Miller. Ford promised to “stop the gravy train,” was adamant that the city of Toronto had a “spending problem and not a revenue problem” and was always critical of Miller when he put his hand out for money from the provincial government without first getting the city’s act together. He was going to be the saviour of partisan Conservatives.
How the mighty have fallen.

In order to balance this year’s budget, avoid cuts and pay for his misguided property tax freeze, Ford had to raid the savings of the city for $370 million. Now that those savings are exhausted, next year he faces a $774 million shortfall with no easy exit.

It is becoming increasingly evident that the rampant waste predicted by Ford and his populist backers was more of a symbolic myth than fact. His rhetoric about cutting councillor office funding and food for council meetings among other things helped him get elected, but mean practically nothing in the grand scheme of things. Right-leaning councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon admitted that, “The gravy’s not flowing through city hall like originally expected.” How shocking.

Waste and corruption were never the problem with the City of Toronto; it’s the simple fact that the city’s government does too much and has to finance the interest on an enormous debt. That Ford lacks the conviction beyond cheap soundbites to cut spending and pay down the debt is evident when he held out his hand this week for assistance in the amount of $350 million from the cash-strapped McGuinty government, exactly like the mayor before him. It is quite clear Ford is in over his head as mayor and never had a plan to actually fix City Hall.

So get set Toronto. You are beginning to witness a four -year long train wreck. But you can’t say that you’re surprised.