While we think city council made the wrong decision in allowing the LRT to proceed that’s not what this is about. We have no quarrel with those members of council who have consistently supported the project from the beginning and who stuck to their guns. (That is not to say we approve of some of their bullying behaviour towards those who held different views on the topic). But what is one to make of Councillors Tom Jackson, Terry Whitehead and Chad Collins, three councillors who for much of the past year were in the anti LRT camp or LRT skeptics but who nonetheless voted for LRT, not because they think it is the best transit solution for Hamilton, but apparently because they didn’t want to be blamed for walking away from a billion dollars? Throughout this lengthy chapter, particularly in the last year as decision time approached; we were repeatedly warned by Ancaster Dundas Flamborough Westdale MPP Ted Mc Meekin that we would lose it all if we turned down LRT in favour of BRT or some other solution. Interestingly, for her part, Premier Wynne repeatedly avoided such verbal brinkmanship. Last May she declared “It’s never been LRT or nothing,” and then just days before the big vote she once again carefully avoided the “LRT or Nothing” mantra and said the money was for transit. Almost immediately McMeekin ramped up the scare rhetoric again, repeating his warning that we would go to the back of the line in a pool of transit supplicants that apparently includes 6 other cities. It was a bluff, of course, but it worked. McMeekin’s warning coupled with a handful of orchestrated constituent phone calls to the trio was apparently all that was needed to do the trick, and just like that, LRT opposition meekly folded. We’re talking about three councillors who regularly swamp their opponents in elections, and had little to risk in voting their consciences, but there it is. The recent Forum poll suggests the three are offside with a significant number of their constituents, so it will be interesting to see if they have for perhaps the first time in their lengthy council careers, handed a real wedge issue to a potential opponent in next year’s municipal election. It’s interesting to note that in the face of losing the vote it was four women — Judi Partridge, Donna Skelly, Maria Pearson and Brenda Johnson– who, (in addition to Doug Conley) stood up to the onslaught and in so doing showed some of their male counterparts who really wears the pants on this council.
One Comment to: Bullying works, apparently
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