The October 21 Star article, Porter push for island airport jets is dead, says Adam Vaughan, reported on the newly-elected Liberal government’s position on airport expansion and jets on Toronto’s waterfront. Two of the three parties that the federal government’s position directly affects – the City, PortsToronto, Porter Airlines – have spoken.
PortsToronto is taking a wait and see position according to the article.
PortsToronto, a “government business enterprise” overseen by Transport Canada, said in a statement, “we don’t yet know the Liberal party’s official position on the Porter Airlines’ proposal to introduce jets … As such it would be premature to comment or speculate about what the future holds.”
Not so Porter Airlines.
“Porter spokesman Brad Cicero said in an email the airline expects continuation of “robust” reviews of the jet proposal.”
Mr. Cicero could have added that even though Porter isn’t paying a cent for the reviews, it expects PortsToronto to keep on shelling out to support Porter’s expansion request. This is from a company that sold its terminal for hundreds of millions dollars less than a year ago and is by the company’s own account a profitable enterprise.
Mr. Cicero added,
“ ‘If, after the full review is complete, and city council determines that it would like to proceed with the proposal, we believe that the federal government should consider the wishes of the people of Toronto when reviewing the proposal’.”
Porter’s insistence that due process be followed is indeed strange. After all, the company blindsided its airport landlord, PortsToronto, when the company went public with its jet and runway expansion news in April 2013. Even then, it sidestepped PortsToronto when Porter’s president and CEO went directly to Mayor Rob Ford 10 days later asking for an airport expansion. Wasn’t that the job of the airport owner?
Perhaps Mr. Cicero is unaware that an earlier Liberal federal government has already set a waterfront precedent when it ignored the wishes of the people of Toronto. It did so when it added Toronto to the list of newly formed Canadian port authorities. This was in spite of testimony before a Senate committee studying Bill C-9 – the bill which established Canada’s port authorities. Evidence given before the committee stated that City Council had passed a motion opposing Bill C-9. Nonetheless, Toronto was stuck with an unwanted port authority.
Perhaps this Liberal government-in-waiting will right the potential wrong that threatens the waterfront, even if it means protecting City Council from itself and allow Waterfront Toronto to carry out its mandate as envisioned.
Mr. Cicero and Porter Airlines should be given the benefit of the doubt in offering flimsy arguments in support of their business plans and be required to come up with more compelling excuses such as dubious polls that claim support.
Two of the three parties that the federal government’s position directly affects – the City, PortsToronto, Porter Airlines – have spoken. The City, so far, has said nothing.