Rossi’s financial plan: makes as much sense as the rest of his campaign

Today Rocco Rossi released a preview of his financial plan for the city of Toronto. Once again I would link to it, but once again Rossi’s camp has made a policy announcement without posting it on their website first, so I’m going off what I’m hearing in the news.

UPDATE: several people have sent me the link to Rossi’s policy document. It doesn’t render on my phone but I will take a look later.

In stark contrast to his recent pie-in-the-sky tunnelling announcements, this part of his platform actually seems well put together. He points out what no other media candidate has admitted: that you can’t slash taxes while maintaining services, without running up a huge deficit. Rossi won’t cut or freeze taxes, and is even in favour of the near universally unpopular personal vehicle registration and land transfer taxes. (Yes, I’m a socialist non-car-owning serial cyclist, and even I hate the PVT.) Instead, Rossi proposes selling public assets and gradually reducing spending (notably through selective attrition at city hall and freezing union wage increase rates) to balance the budget over time, rather than slashing services immediately upon taking office.

His support for the PVT is where Rossi loses me yet again.

I’ve been trying to determine Rossi’s target demographic. So far in his campaign, he has actively alienated:

  • public transit supporters, with his Transit City Plus plan to build a few kilometres of subways instead of hundreds of kilometres of light rail;
  • cyclists, with vitriol and rhetoric over the separated lane trial on University and conversion of Jarvis;
  • environmentalists, proposing to tear up the Cedarvale Ravine and tunnel even more traffic onto core streets by completing the unpopular Spadina Expressway;
  • cyclists again, vowing to keep them off of major thoroughfares and proposing a lame cycling plan that only builds on four streets in the core;
  • Italians, with his ill-conceived mobster ads;
  • no doubt others I’ve missed.

So I thought it safe to assume he was trying to steal votes from Rob Ford’s tax-hating car-loving suburban vote base. But now Rossi proposes to keep the anti-car Personal Vehicle Tax, and raise taxes generally, or at least not freeze or lower them. Ford fans won’t be impressed by that. I don’t know what demographic could be left for Rossi to be targeting.

Now I think he must be trying to universally alienate everybody, while at the same time being Not Rob Ford. It isn’t going to work, though. There are many candidates who are not Rob Ford (all but one, actually) and all of them have supporters who support them for their own platform, not because they’re not a worse candidate. Even Rob Ford’s platform appeals to a target demographic. As Himy Syed said, Ford will be a great mayor, for north Etobicoke.

On its own, Rossi’s plan seems fiscally responsible, as long as you’re ok with the sale of public assets like Toronto Hydro. He doesn’t propose to cut taxes but is offering a way to increase taxpayers’ value for our tax dollars by balancing the budget over time, without offering the lies of the other campaigns that we can pay less without sacrificing vital city services. It’s a refreshing change from a campaign that has been so absurd and divisive, but it’s far too little, and far too late.

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About Greg Burrell

Greg is an accountant, cyclist and political observer living in Toronto, Canada with too many cats.
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