By J. Diamond Daniel, Toronto Observer, March 28, 2019
More than 100 people at a town hall meeting on March 26 opposed Premier Doug Ford’s plans for the province to take over the TTC.
The meeting was hosted by Toronto-Danforth councillor Paula Fletcher, joined by MPP Peter Tabuns, transit advocacy group TTCRiders and representatives of the Amalgamated Transit Union under the slogan “Hands Off Our Subway” at St. David’s Anglican Church on Donlands Avenue.
The pews were filled with people eager to rally against what Fletcher called risky business.
“Risky for Toronto’s economy. Risky for jobs. Risky because we have a situation where Metrolinx is not, what I’ll call, the most mature transit operator,” Fletcher said.
Fletcher argued that former Premier Mike Harris “put transit back” during his tenure and urged Torontonians not to trust the PC Party again. She said she is confident in the TTC’s future as a publicly owned transport agency.
“We simply need the money that was also taken out by the Harris Conservatives,” Fletcher said.
Aleem Farani, member at large for ATU, said making money is the incentive behind privatization for Ford’s government.
“They are in it for profit. They are not in it for us,” Farani said. “I speak as a worker, but at the same time I use the transit system. And so does my family. And my friends. And my neighbours. We’ve paid for it. We own it. We want to keep it. ”
Tabuns agreed that Ford was only interested in his friends who want to make money.
“They will design and build whatever they want with total disregard for what we in this city need,” Tabuns said.
“That is a huge problem. A huge problem for people that live in the city and people that live in this region.”
One of Ford’s group’s plan is to run the subway to towns outside of the GTA and Tabuns believes that the TTC should take care of Torontonians first.
“Understand that what they see is a system that they can use to serve their political interests and their political base,” he said. “Not to serve the needs of people in this city and around this city for good transit.”
With a firm belief that Ford is “committed” to cutting costs, Tabuns is skeptical that much money will be put into improvements for the TTC under his leadership.
“Do you think he is going to come to this city with hundreds of millions of dollars that he is going to shower on us?” Tabuns asked. “That is a very bad ‘trickle-down’ theory. None of us want to be trickled on by Doug Ford.”
Residents waited in line to question the plans made for public transit. All of them opposed a provincial take-over.
East York resident Paul Codd questioned the premier’s targets.
“Is there anyone left for him to attack? And my question is not as silly as it might seem,” said Codd. “If he hasn’t attacked you yet, he will attack you.”
He said Torontonians will not put up with it.
“We are the people that need to be listened to and please remember that people united will never be defeated.”