Meet the group leading the charge against improving public transit in Canada.
The right-wing Canadian Taxpayers Federation has done everything but come out with torches and pitchforks in the current Vancouver transit referendum -- becoming the public voice and face of the 'No' side, positioned against a 0.5% sales tax to improve transit in the Metro Vancouver area.
Why? To bring about "carmageddon," as CTF BC director Jordan Bateman said recently on a local talk show.
For Bateman's thoughts on "crazy crackheads" taking free rides on the bus, Mayor Gregor Robertson's dream of blowing up bridges with a "grenade," the dangers posed by cyclists, "car terrorism" and "creatures walking down the street made out of metal," check out this video with host David Berner:
So this is the guy campaigning against public transit? -- who now finds himself offside with almost every single Lower Mainland mayor, both Vision Vancouver and the conservative Non-Partisan Association, Surrey First, as well a parade of business, labour and environmental groups?
This broad "Yes" coalition is proposing a modest 0.5% sales tax in the Metro Vancouver area, generating an estimated $250 million annually that will be invested in Vancouver's transit infrastructure -- including an immediate increase in bus service, expansion of the city's bikeways, three LRT lines and a five-station subway slated for completion in 2024.
Proponents say the increase is expected to cost households $125 annually, but with funding from other tiers of government, they say those costs will be offset by reduced traffic congestion and shorter commute times, reduced carbon pollution and a boost to the local economy as Vancouver's population grows and ages.
For more on the group leading the "No" charge, here are some of CTF's recent contributions to public policy debate in Canada:
- In 2014, they said Employment Insurance pays "too many people not to work" and suggested the federal government cut off even more unemployed workers from EI benefits to solve problems with the Temporary Foreign Worker Program.
- The group recently argued that lowering taxes for millionaires could actually help your favourite hockey team win the Stanley Cup -- despite the two lowest taxed teams (Calgary and Edmonton) being among the worst in the NHL last season. An ESPN analysis further debunked that hypothesis this week.
- The CTF was one of only three groups who supported the Harper government's move to eliminate the long-form census. Joining them in this axis of factophobes: the National Citizens Coalition and the Fraser Institute. (On the other side of the debate: the rest of Canada).