Transit money for subway not firm: Flaherty

Federal funding to help extend the Spadina subway line to York University and into Vaughan is far from a sure thing, warns Finance Minister Jim Flaherty. In his most pointed comments yet on the proposed $2-billion TTC expansion, Flaherty had some sobering news yesterday for subway riders, reported the Toronto Star Aug. 22. “There isn’t any firm money on the table,” he told the newspaper in a story also distributed by Canadian Press and Broadcast News.

While Flaherty said he has been having “constructive discussions” about the long-awaited subway extension with Ontario counterpart Greg Sorbara – including a private meeting Aug. 14 in Ottawa – a final decision is not expected until year’s end. The federal minister noted the Conservative government is balancing competing transportation priorities, including new highways. In a separate interview, Sorbara stressed the future looks bright for the new 6.2-kilometre line from Downsview station, through York’s Keele campus and across Steeles Avenue into the 905 area code. “I remain optimistic that they will participate because of the importance of the project and the importance of transit in the Greater Toronto Area,” the Ontario finance minister said.

Insiders note that partisan politics could also be at play, said the Star. The extended Spadina subway line would run through ridings that are held provincially and federally by Liberals. That would likely help Premier Dalton McGuinty’s provincial Liberals in their re-election bid on Oct. 4, 2007. But it is less clear how a new subway in that part of Toronto would be politically advantageous for Harper’s minority Conservatives, who could face the electorate as early as next spring. Conservative sources point out that the federal largesse could be more fruitfully spent on other transit priorities in and around Toronto, where the federal Tories have a better chance of winning seats in the next election, said the Star.

Milevsky study on GIC returns cited by financial columnist

Which of the following will give you a better real rate of return on your money?, asked a financial columnist in the Owen Sound Sun Times Aug. 21. A) Hide $100,000 in your mattress or B) buy a five-year $100,000 Guaranteed Investment Certificate (GIC) earning 3.5 per cent at the bank. You may be surprised by the answer. In 2003, York University finance Professor Moshe Milevsky determined that someone in the top tax bracket who owned 1-year GICs from 1973 to 2003 would have had an average annual real rate of return of minus 1.3 per cent.

On air

  • Osgoode Hall Law School alumna Sharon E. Shore (LLB ‘05) spoke about her decision to become a lawyer, after her daughter Lisa died in hospital in 1998 while in the care of two nurses who were later found to have committed acts of professional misconduct, on CBC Radio’s “Metro Morning” program Aug. 21.
  • Bernie Wolf, economics professor at York’s Schulich School of Business, spoke about General Motors’ decision to bring back the Camaro and build it in an Oshawa plant slated for closure, on CBC Radio’s “Here and Now” program Aug. 21.