99-year Tory privatization fleecing continues on Hwy. 407
ETR announces sixth toll increase after Liberals lose latest court
challenge to private operators
Toronto - The rip-off of Ontario motorists under the 99-year Highway 407
privatization deal by the
Ontario's former Tory government continues unabated.
With more than 93 years still to go in the secretive lease
approved by the Mike Harris government, 407 ETR, the big business consortium that now runs the
highway, has raised tolls yet again.
The terms of the deal prevent the province from doing anything to
interfere with the 407 ETR's right to make a profit.
No sooner did the Dalton McGuinty Liberals lose their latest attempt
to take the private company to court than 407 ETR boosted rates for the sixth
time in six years.
14.95 cents a kilometre
Effective Feb. 7, the peak rate for light vehicles will rise by
another 1-cent to 14.95
cents a kilometre on the 108-kilometre throughway. The off-peak rate is 14.1 cents a kilometre.
The consortium bought the highway for $3.1 billion from the Tories,
who promised that rate increases would be minimal. However, rates are
now more than 250% above what they were at the outset - and the
agreement has barely kicked into gear.
The contract is so outrageous that even the right-wing Toronto Sun has condemned
it and called on the province to expropriate the highway back into
public hands, whatever the cost.
the time (the lease) expires, our grandchildren will have to re-mortgage their
homes to afford to travel the 407," writes Sun business editor Linda
"Yet, the Tories promised us 'tolls can only be adjusted by 2% per
year, plus inflation for the first 15 years, and thereafter by
inflation only.' Lies, lies, lies," she adds.
"And now we expect this: Queen's Park will again become a collection
agency for the 407, when the consortium takes McGuinty to court in
April to reinstate a policy that drivers' licences cannot be renewed
if there's an unpaid 407 ETR bill."
Expropriate and be damned
Leatherdale says it will not be easy to bring the highway back under
public control, given the heavy-handed tactics of the operators.
"The consortium, which includes Grupo Ferrovial SA, a Spanish
conglomerate, plus Canadian-based SNC-Lavalin and Australian Macquarie
Infrastructure Group, is known for flexing its corporate muscle," she
"For example, the government of Spain threatened to veto a proposed
trade agreement between Canada and the new European Union, unless
Grupo Ferrovial SA was allowed to raise 407 tolls," she adds.
"I say expropriate, and go ahead make our day: Sue us." NUPGE
Web posted by NUPGE:
13 January 2005