In the unlikely event anyone did not catch Transport Minister Marc Garneau’s reiteration of the Liberal Party pre-election and mid-election pledge to leave the Tripartite Agreement as is, he left no doubt this time. In an example of very clear communication, he said that nothing is going to change his mind.
It appears that airport expansion proponents needed to hear the message a second time and no doubt for good reason. There is the growing list primarily of print articles urging him to go back on the election commitment. Recent additions include a fatuous appeal penned by a U of T professor and a Globe and Mail report of a letter from Ontario Conservative MPP Monte McNaughton to Minister Garneau.
Interestingly, the letter is full of the same old tired unproven economic claims including reference to a City of Toronto Economic Impact Study stating over $250 million benefits will result from the airport extension. No such study exists except in a reference on a Porter Airlines press release.
The more than $250 million in benefits in question comes from a table in an economic consideration report by HLT Advisory for the city. The table compares two separate economic impact studies: one for airport commissioned by PortsToronto; the other for Waterfront Toronto. It appears that someone is being elastic with the truth in inferring that the City of Toronto commissioned a study that proved airport expansion would result in the more than $250 million in benefits.
As problematic as Mr. McNaughton’s letter is, it is likely not much more than yet another irritant that prompted Minister Garneau to react. More likely the catalyst was the accumulation of appeals that the expansionists made directly to Minister Garneau. That would certainly be the case if the city councillors’ experience prior to the April 1, 2014 council vote on the airport is anything to go by.
Reference was made more than once during the debate by more than one councilor on the lobbying that took place over the expansion issue. To get an idea of the intensity of the lobbying, go to the City of Toronto Lobby Registry search page, fill in the fields as shown in the screen capture below and click on Search.
If Minister Garneau, after a month in the position, has been subject to a fraction of the lobbying onslaught shown in the search results, or even worse now that proponents might be feeling desperate, it is easy to understand why he said enough is enough. And well he should.