Rocco Rossi: A mayor for the 1950s

Post by Eric Mang in ,

8 comments

Rocco Rossi
Toronto mayoral candidate Rossi – playing from the conservative playbook? Globe and Mail photo

Rocco Rossi, one of the candidates running for mayor of Toronto, has unveiled some of his election platform. And in doing so, he has carved out niche on the right, leaving Smitherman to straddle the centre.

Rossi may be the cherubic, smiling counterpoint to Smitherman's furrow-browed bully, but make no mistake, Rossi has put his thumb on Torontonians' basest fears and has decided to play on them.

In yesterday's speech to the Empire Club in front of an audience, according to the Toronto Star, bulked up with enthusiastic supporters, Rossi sermonized from the Fraser Institute/Canadian Federation of Independent Business Handbook for How to Incite Fear and Win Public Office.

First, Rossi resurrected that old time right-winger favourite: sell public assets. That's right, take something built using public dollars, Toronto Hydro, and auction it off to the highest bidder. Toronto gets a one-time boost of a few bucks and the private sector buyer gets a cash machine.

Second, Rossi perpetuates the myth that the private sector can do a better job managing and delivering public services. Let me restate my comments on this issue from one of my posts from this past summer:

"…private collection did not work well in the former municipality of East York and that in Etobicoke, where garbage is privately collected, it is neither cheaper nor more expensive. In fact, it seems that private collectors in Etobicoke earn less than their public counterparts, have fewer benefits, work longer hours and have unpaid sick days.

How is this better for our communities?

Local governments are best positioned to deliver local services because they are the closest government to citizens. Further, in order to engage their democratic purpose, local government must be responsible for the provision of myriad direct services. To hand over those direct public services to the private sector should be perceived as an abrogation of democratic principles.

Further, a public good must benefit the public, not just taxpayers and particularly not those who can afford a service. Think of a public service as essential as water where privatization can lead to increased prices and decreased access.

The public good recognizes interdependence in the reliance on and distribution of resources where a benefit for one is a benefit for all, that citizens cannot be excluded from sharing resources and that a benefit for one doesn’t come at the expense for others (Hood, 1986).

Let’s stop those who represent the wealthy and well-off from fragmenting our communities. They don’t care about you and they don’t care whether you have access to a particular service. There is absolutely nothing altruistic about wanting to privatize public services. By manipulating your fears and by failing to provide sound evidence, the CFIB et al’s push for privatization rewards their friends and puts our public services at risk.

If you want to buy into the nonsense that public services should be privatized, ask yourself why. And then determine if once those services are privatized whether they are cost-effective, better and serve everybody (and I mean absolutely everybody) equally and fairly

Of course, it's easier to ignore studies and reports and other cities' experiences.

Rossi also issues an unwarranted attack on unions without providing evidence whether unionized workers are more or less productive than private sector workers. And let's not get into the pay issue. The CFIB's report on wage scales between the private and public sectors is risible in its methodology; a report that would receive a failing grade if it were submitted in a first year stats course.

Wanting to leave no public service stone unturned, Rossi thinks the TTC board should be replaced with a private sector body. And he wants to put the much anticipated Transit City project on hold, a statement that indicates he doesn’t understand where transit funding comes from or the jobs it provides.

Finally, Rossi riffed on the manufactured "war on the car". However, wanting safe and secure bike lanes and being vocal about those demands does not a war make. He thinks bike lanes should be on quiet streets rather than arterial roads. Why not both? Why not encourage people to get out of their cars and walk and take transit and bike?

Rossi may capture the suburban vote, those voters who venture downtown only to work in their glass towers and then hurry home; those voters who think public transit is quaint or that when a politician kills a cyclist, it was probably the cyclist's fault.

All of Rossi's promises involve handing more to the private sector while taking away from the public sector. Using our money to take private risks. Who benefits from Rossi's schemes? Who are his supporters?

Rossi is a man of the past. Not one of his campaign promises uttered at the Empire Club speech builds a Toronto for the future. Not one promise is visionary or indicates a passion not only for the city but for all of its citizens.

- Post by Eric

8 Comments

Eric, you are misrepresenting what privatization of services means. It is not the local government handing over a function to the private sector and walking away. Presumably the city already has service standards for every function they provide their citizens. Privatization means having a competitive process where companies compete to provide those services meeting the specified service standard. This would be monitored and penalties applied for non-performance. Yes, the free market system is not perfect but, like democracy, better than the alternatives.

Let me ask if anyone knows where bike route No 51 is. No?

I live on it, and except for the kids who use the sidewalks, nobody uses it. Yet I will wager that it is included in the kms of bike lanes that Toronto boasts about.

Rossi mentioned looking at the Toronto transit future build. The Sheppard LRT proposal is ridiculous. The bus along that avenue provides a clear service for the people who live between the major intersections. The LRT won't.

Hopefully, Rossi and anyone else running for mayor will cancel this Ludicrous Ridiculous Transport.

Eric. Bravo. You captured what a lot of Torontonians are thinking. Well said and keep up the good work. Would love to read more of you on this blog. It helps to provide a bit of balance, if you know what I mean.

Efficient and effective management in the private sector. Right. Like the banking industry or the automobile industry or the nuclear-energy industry or the oil industry. All of which either collapsed completely, requiring billions dollars in bailouts from those darned inefficient, interfering governments or only exist because of huge subsidies from those same governments.
Put the right-wing in control of government and they bankrupt it, too. Usually through pointless wars.
Such total contempt for the voter is breath-taking, but typical.

Like it or not, Landlord, only the free market system can generate the wealth that has benefited all of society. The free market creates and Socialists redistribute. If planned economies worked then the Soviet Union would have buried the West.

Oh and by the way it was the US banks that needed bailing out, not Canadian banks.

You're not fooling anybody Bill. The "free market" is a fairy tale. The most productive economy on the planet is in China, a nominally communist demand economy. China is burying the West under a mountain of debt.
The Canadian banks avoided bankruptcy thanks to strict government regulation, not an unfettered free market in financial services. In BC the "socialists" (i.e. the provincial government) are the largest employer. Since they are a monopoly they have no competition.
Let's see a couple of examples of where there is a free market.

It was not the lack of regulation that caused the financial problems in the US but Government intervention in mandating that banks lend to subprime home buyers. Low interest rates, again government policy, created easy credit resulting in asset bubbles.

Don't mistake free markets for laissez faire as there is a role for government in the economy but it should be like a referee in sports - you shouldn't notice them if they are doing a good job. Set the rules and let the markets work. Unfortunately, that doesn't get politicians elected.

Yes Eric...but benefit is it to me the Toronto Taxpayer and my neighbours who were harassed and bullied during the Toronto city strike.....Called Scabs by the Garbage Strikers at Bermondsey....??? Close to taxpayers.....??? They are overpaid, lazy, union thugs who broke the law and should be fired. However because Mayor Miller and the Union brokered a deal, no one got into trouble....because of the Union bullying of Taxpayers...Now 1 year later, all hell has broken loss...Mayor chooses not to seek a 3rd term because of high taxes to pay the Bloated union/bureacracy Salaries at Toronto.....Time to Privatize....As a Toronto resident, I feel like I have had 7 years of an NDP/Union Dictatorship who feel that have all rights...The taxpayers have none..I hate Mayor Miller and what his Councillor lackeys have done to city...Time to fire and lay off....

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