July 9, 2015
By Bob Smith, Canada LaborPress
Toronto, Canada – The president of Toronto's 10,000-strong transit workers union says Vancouver wants to fund a transit system with expensive for-profit transit projects rather than a less costly public option.
"Just as we saw in neighboring Alberta, voters are tired of being fleeced by the corporate-government complex of backroom deals, huge political patronage and total lack of transparency involving taxpayers' money," said Bob Kinnear, president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 113, which represents most Toronto Transit Commission and York Region Transit workers.
"Everyone who followed this story knows that Vancouverites are rational people who know they need more transit but do not trust the so-called public-private partnership – Translink – that has under-delivered on service improvements and wasted huge amounts of money while not being publicly accountable. People are tired of paying more and more for fewer and more stressed public services because corporate profits now have to be figured into the cost" says Kinnear.
During the 2010 Toronto civic election campaign, the union produced videos, TV ads and transit campaigns after mayoral candidate Rob Ford promoted a Toronto transit privatization plan.
"It is a genuine populist uprising against the theft of public services," says Kinnear, "Just like the Toronto referendum of 1920 that saw a 90% vote in favour of a fully-public transit system. People massively rejected the existing privately-run system back then and they have done that again today in Vancouver. We will work with our fellow transit workers in Vancouver to help bring their transit system back under public control and accountability," says Kinnear.
During the vote, ATU International President Larry Hanley came to Canada to support his union members. The privatization by municipalities of transit systems is also a controversial issue in the United States.
"Canadians are very supportive of public transit," said Hanley. "But they are fundamentally resistant to the privatization of public services, which is why there is no popular initiative to privatize the TTC. The Liberals snuck it through in British Columbia but that game is over." Americans and Canadians can learn a lot from each other that public transportation is always a better option, continued Hanley.