Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Can Toronto Trust Frivolous George Smitherman's Plans/Promises?

Last week Toronto Mayoral Candidate George Smitherman released his "Plan to Get Toronto Moving. Again", and also outlined his stances on the 4 key issues in his platform for the next Mayor of Toronto.

The Transcript of his Keynote address speech from his May 28, 2010 Fundraiser Luncheon at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre can be found at: George Smitherman Announces Plan To Get Toronto Moving. Again.

Smitherman's 4 Key Issues are:
1. Signature Parks and a Recreational Renaissance
2. Fiscal stability
3. Improving City Services
4. An Integrated Transportation Plan
His full discussion on each of these 4 issues can be found at: George on the Issues.

Now, I'm not going to dive deep into his plan and critique it line by line over here. I feel that that has already been done very well by our local news organizations (see Toronto Star: Smitherman set to toss $17 billion at transit, Toronto Sun: Smitherman promises new subways, The Globe and Mail: Smitherman’s plan simply a transit lover’s fantasy, National Post: Smitherman pushes 'affordable' transit and lastly a good one that has other Candidates' reactions: Toronto Sun: Foes blow the wheels off Smitherman transit plan). As I've provided the links to both his speech and his plan above, I will leave that final vetting to you.

What I am looking to discuss here is whether it's even worth spending the time to consider George Smitherman, as via his track record and his chosen political affiliations, he has given Torontonians absolutely no reason to do so.

Smitherman has big ideas and has made big promises in his plan as the next Mayor of Toronto, but the 2 key questions that I have in regards to George Smitherman are:

1. Can George Smitherman Handle Leading a City the size of Toronto?
2. Can Toronto Trust George Smitherman's Plans and Promises?

I think that these are 2 fair and legitimate questions to ask, and below I'll discuss why I have these questions, and why they are on my mind.

1. Can George Smitherman Handle Leading a City the size of Toronto?

George is famously known for Failing Ontarians in his leadership of eHealth, a program that was so severely mismanaged, it ended up costing Ontarians over $1 Billion in pure losses. Ever since the fiasco, Ontarians have been paying the price for his failure via the creation of all kinds of new taxes/fees/premiums, including the HST, in order to help make up for those losses.

Smitherman, who still to this day denies all accountibility and responsibility for the eHealth fiasco, has shown that when the tides start to rise, you can expect him to bail on the ship and leave others to have to clean up his mess. Just ask former Health Minister David Kaplan about that.

Here's a story from the Toronto Star from Oct 9, 2009:

eHealth scandal dents Smitherman's mayoral run
The eHealth Ontario spending scandal has Deputy Premier George Smitherman's fledgling Toronto mayoral candidacy on life support.

While former health minister David Caplan fell on his sword for the electronic health records fiasco that Auditor General Jim McCarter pegged Wednesday at $1 billion, most of the transgressions happened on Smitherman's watch from 2003 until 2008.

Opposition parties are calling for Smitherman's ouster from cabinet, charging he slipped out the side door at the health ministry, leaving a time bomb for his successor.

"Seventy per cent of those untendered contracts ... happened under George Smitherman's watch. He should be stepping down," Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak said, accusing McGuinty of playing favourites in cabinet.

"Dalton McGuinty said that David Caplan resigned because he was at bat at the time. George Smitherman hit a home run when it came to giving out these untendered contracts," said Hudak.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said the auditor general's exposé of sole-sourced contracts, questionable expenses and lax oversight is ammunition civic political rivals would exploit against Smitherman.

The eHealth controversy erupted because former Progressive Conservative leader John Tory pushed for disclosure of secret records through requests under freedom of information laws.

Dubbed the "minister of scandals" Thursday by the Tories, Smitherman's continued presence on the Liberals' front bench is a lingering reminder of the eHealth mess.
So, given Frivolous George's track record as the "Minister of Scandals", for "slipp[ing] out the side door at the health ministry, leaving a time bomb for his successor", his Mismanagement-style of "sole-sourced contracts, questionable expenses and lax oversight", is this a person that we can depend on to lead Canada's largest City? Is this a person that we can depend on to work with the Private Sector FAIRLY and LEGALLY when developing his "Integrated Transit Plan"? If he can mismanage a single government program so horribly, how can he expect to be able to Manage Canada's largest City with multiple large programs going on at the same time?

I believe that these are fair questions to ask.

2. Can Toronto Trust George Smitherman's Plans and Promises?

Torontonians and Ontarians have been dealing with the fallout from electing and re-electing Premier Dalton McGuinty for years, a man known for his constant lies, deceit, and brutal punishment on Ontarians via endless new taxes for making that electoral mistake twice (yes, fool us once, shame on you McGuinty; but fool us twice, shame on us Ontarians).

George Smitherman was the DEPUTY-PREMIER under Premier Dalton McGuinty. They are the same. They follow the same philosophy, the same ideas, the same plans, the same strategies, and yes, the same failures and travesties. If Smitherman was not 100% aligned with Dalton McGuinty, do you really believe that McGuinty would have made him Deputy-Premier? Do you think that McGuinty would really want a person as Deputy Preimier who would be questioning and challenging every move that he makes? McGuinty chose Smitherman as his right-hand man for a reason, and that's a reality that all Torontonians must acknowledge, accept and consider.

McGuinty's most famous lie was that he would not raise taxes if elected. As soon as he was elected, he introduced the Ontario Health Premium, and that was just the beginning of a landslide of new taxes that he has been pummeling Ontarians with ever since.

George Smitherman has his share of lies that he's made to Ontarians as well. Here's a story from Wind Concerns Ontario:

24.3% Increase: McGuinty and Smitherman Have Clearly Pulled a Fast One
Energy Critic John Yakabuski (Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke MPP) said today that Dalton McGuinty and George Smitherman have clearly pulled a fast one on Ontario electricity customers. Yakabuski pointed out that the recent request by Hydro One for shocking rate increases is proof that Energy Minister Smitherman was not being honest when he repeatedly claimed that the “Green Energy Act” would only add 1% per year to your electricity bill.

“This is simply unacceptable. How can Dalton McGuinty and George Smitherman allow this to happen?” said Yakabuski. “Have they no regard for what people are going through these days? And worse yet, the McGuinty Liberals will rub salt into the wound when they add a further 8% to your bill with the implementation of the Harmonized Sales Tax on July 1, 2010.”

Hydro One’s request would see the delivery charge on the average residential customer’s bill rise by 9.5% in 2010 and 13.3% in 2011. Some customers could see their charges go up by as much as 24.6% next year. Electricity is an essential commodity. While everyone is encouraged to conserve, this rate increase will do the opposite. As these charges are for delivery, bills will rise even when consumers use less.

“The Liberal government was warned that their policies would lead to this, but they denied it or just didn’t seem to care,” said Yakabuski. “This could be devastating to so many Ontarians already struggling to pay their bills.”
As you can see, George Smitherman and Dalton McGuinty have been pretty much partners in this tax attack on Ontarians, and both have developed reputations which preach to voters that they should take whatever promises and plans that they propose with a grain of salt. They will say whatever it takes to get elected, and then they will simply scoff at any references to the promises that they made.

Now, you tell me, in Smitherman's latest plans, he says that he is going to upgrade the TTC with costs reaching around $17 Billion, and that he's going to do so without creating Road Tolls or Traffic Congestion Taxes, that he's going to "reduce" the Toronto Vehicle Registration Tax (apparently by as much as 1/3 of the $60 current rate), and all the while he's going to provide free TTC access for Seniors between 10am and 2pm on weekdays and etc. My question to you is, not how will this be possible, that's the obvious question. My question is, do you believe him? Can you trust him? Can we Torontonians really trust someone who has done nothing but lie and punish Ontarians for years? That is the REAL question in regards to George Smitherman.

With his track record as a Failed Leader with eHealth, and his Political Alignments with Corrupt and Promise-Breaking Politicians like Dalton McGuinty, why would Torontonians Trust Frivolous George Smitherman?


http://media.torontolife.com/dynimages/features/smitherman_mcguinty.jpg by Fred Thornhill/Reuters

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