Rabid Ford claims highway would create 49,000 jobs in unconvincing campaign

The government said the road’s opening would lead to the creation of 49,000 jobs. The Liberals dismissed it as a cynical political move Doug Ford’s government says it will open up a new route…

Rabid Ford claims highway would create 49,000 jobs in unconvincing campaign

The government said the road’s opening would lead to the creation of 49,000 jobs. The Liberals dismissed it as a cynical political move

Doug Ford’s government says it will open up a new route for the highway through the Greenbelt from Lambton County to Highway 401, according to Ontario’s public works minister, who said it would create “the creation of 49,000 good paying jobs”.

The premier’s public relations apparatus has been running a service that detailed the benefits of the so-called “Road2401” plan. A lengthy list of measures was relayed from government to government, with approval often “considered and determined”. The project would “greatly enhance mobility” and reduce the speed of traffic, according to a government-published document.

It would not, however, result in an acceleration of construction in Ford’s controversial efforts to build three new major highways: 101, 504 and 501 from the Niagara Escarpment to the St Lawrence river.

The ministry did not respond to questions about the cost to taxpayers of the retrofit of Highway 401 for increased truck traffic, such as the inclusion of “leaf burning stops”.

Ford has at his disposal many potential models for the intervention in a widely opposed area, in defiance of planning law, arguing that a highway and other infrastructure are crucial to economic development. While Ford could claim to promote economic growth, it would be wrong to make the connection between the ongoing business of commerce and the construction of the roadway.

This is not a small matter in a premier with a case to make. Ontario is currently in a constant tug-of-war with global corporations over tax rates, supply management, and carbon policy. It is a war that has hampered economic development.

Doug Ford tried to remove Ontario’s highest court Read more

Ontario, the economic engine of the G7, suffers from the highest rate of income inequality and sustained periods of high unemployment. A high-speed road brings people in a more convenient location for the highway. But trucks don’t build Ontario.

While the province might wish for a few more jobs, it will not produce them. Ford’s plan is not economic policy. It is, instead, a cynical attempt to win votes that can be calculated to add up to hundreds of millions of dollars in social costs that far outweigh the spin of spinoff benefits.

Some civil servants charged with safeguarding the Greenbelt have doubted Ford’s claims, though, saying that while the highway would be welcome, more progressive initiatives are needed. It would appear that Ford’s political advisers are following more conservative logic to calculation. Their take on development is not a model to which Ford can put down a bet.

Sandra Polsky is an investigative reporter for the Agence France-Presse.

• Follow Guardian Cities on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to join the discussion, and explore our archive here

Leave a Comment