Sorbara earmarks funds for York subway project

Finance Minister Greg Sorbara (BA ’78, LLB ’81) reiterated the province’s earlier promise to earmark funds for an environmental assessment for a new subway line to York University, reported the Globe and Mail and Toronto Star May 19 in coverage of Ontario’s budget. It’s a project that has strong support from Sorbara, said the Globe.

The assessment will be paid for out of a $1.05-billion deal announced this spring, said the Star. York Region Chair Bill Fisch said the expansion will boost his region’s efforts to push the subway even further north, reported the Star. The region has even bought land near the proposed station at Jane Street and Steeles Avenue as a beachhead when the subway system eventually rolls into York. “Once the subway reaches York University, we’re going to do our darnedest to bring it to Vaughan’s corporate centre,” Vaughan Mayor Michael Di Biase told the Star.

The promise of funds for an environmental assessment was also aired in live coverage of Sorbara’s budget speech May 18 on CBC Radio’s “Here and Now” in Toronto.

Rexall Centre will be ready for Masters

With just over two months to go, officials say the new Rexall Centre will be ready to host Roger Federer, Andre Agassi, Daniel Nestor and other stars of the tennis world at the Tennis Masters Canada event starting July 24. The $45-million facility, which will be the new home of Tennis Canada, replaces mostly temporary structures at Toronto’s York University, reported Canadian Press, major newspapers and television sports broadcasters May 18 and 19.

Democracy at work as court shushes the rich

Democracy does not come with a user’s manual. Any democratic society has to decide for itself what best advances its democratic project, wrote Allan C. Hutchinson, a professor at York’s Osgoode Hall Law School, in a commentary printed May 19 in the Globe and Mail. “In a much-anticipated decision, a divided court upheld some controversial sections of the Canada Elections Act that limit the spending of lobby groups to $3,000 per parliamentary constituency or $150,000 nationally. It overruled a 2002 Alberta Court of Appeal decision accepting Stephen Harper’s and the National Citizens Coalition’s gag-rule argument that limits on third-party election spending offended freedom of expression and were unconstitutional….

“Since classical Athens, the continuing electoral challenge has been to separate finance from franchise, and money from mouths. The Supreme Court reiterated the idea from earlier litigation that it is simply undemocratic for economic clout to skew political emancipation. While the rich are as entitled to be heard as anyone else, they deserve no greater hearing.” Hutchinson concluded: “The court’s decision is a win-win for anyone committed to the primacy of democratic politics.”