Thursday, July 8, 2010

Joe Pantalone best for the environment

The Toronto Environmental Alliance has ranked Toronto's mayoral candidates on their understanding of and priorities for the environment, and Deputy Mayor Joe Pantalone is the best. Today the Alliance released their mid-campaign report card and ranked Pantalone as the clear frontrunner on this issue, with Toronto's embarrassment, Rob Ford, being the worst. In fact, when it comes to the environment, Ford's knowledge and understanding of the issues are quite laughable, and it shows quite clearly in this report. No surprise there. Although George Smitherman placed second in the report, he was also chided for his weak integrated transportation plan and for supporting garbage incineration. Sarah Thomson and Rocco Rossi faired even worse, who clearly need to do more homework. Pantalone received high marks for his commitment to build and fund Transit City, to commit to 70% waste diversion, to build transportation infrastructure which is accessible to everyone, and to implement Toronto's Sustainable Energy Strategy. However, the Alliance noted that Pantalone needs to improve somewhat when it comes to buying green and local, and pollution prevention tools. Still, this is a very significant and positive development for Pantalone, who has been at the forefront on environmental issues during the campaign thus far, while the other candidates predominantly have been competing over who is the most regressive.

The Rankings:

Joe Pantalone – Progressing Steadily; Needs to Speak Up

Joe is doing well. His knowledge of the environmental priorities is impressive: he understands the importance of public transit and building Transit City, sustainable energy, complete streets and Toronto Hydro’s role in greening the city. However, he can improve his grade by supporting these priorities in an official platform. He is distracted by what others say and needs to focus to get his points across. For Joe to excel he must learn to speak more about the priorities.

George Smitherman – Shows Potential But Needs to Apply Himself

George likes to talk about the environment, but his enthusiasm doesn’t match his work to date. Compared to Transit City and the Toronto Bike Plan, his integrated transportation plan is not as good for the environment: it will take longer to build, reach fewer people and keep bike lanes off main roads. He has also mentioned the possibility of burning garbage, which harms people and the environment. For George to succeed, he needs to match his enthusiasm with solid planning to achieve a better grade.

Sarah Thomson – Eager Participant; Misses Key Lessons

Sarah is very eager and wants to do well. She acknowledges the need for blue and green bins in apartment buildings, but has no plan to get them there. She supports public transit, but her plan ignores the lessons from the past: subways don’t work in low density neighbourhoods. She also cares about cyclists but doesn’t want to build the routes they need. Sarah, like others, needs to spend the summer reviewing the priorities if she hopes to do well.

Rocco Rossi – Shows Lack of Understanding

Rocco is unsure about the priorities. While he talks about them, his plans suggests he doesn’t understand them. His focus on subways shows he doesn’t get the environmental importance of the Transit City Plan that will bring transit to all parts of Toronto. He also doesn’t seem to realize that selling Toronto Hydro could jeopardize the City’s Sustainable Energy Strategy. Rocco needs to spend the summer studying the priorities if he hopes to do well.

Rob Ford – Shows Little Interest

Rob has shown no interest in the environmental priorities. On the rare occasion when he does talk about the environment, it’s clear that he needs to spend more time studying the issues. For example, he confuses streetcars with LRTs and wants subways even where there isn’t enough density to support them. To earn a passing grade, Rob must put some time into understanding that there is more to being Mayor than complaining about Councillors’ expenses or talking about football

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