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Canadian Urbanism Uncovered

002: What does a new NDP leader mean for cities?

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Spacing Radio headed to Hamilton last week for the Ontario NDP leadership convention to find out if a new leader will have any affect on how politicians tackle city issues at Queen’s Park. Host David Michael Lamb sits down with Spacing senior editor Dylan Reid, who blogged and Tweeted from the floor of the convention, and publisher Matthew Blackett who talked to the candidates — including eventual winner Andrea Horwath — about their platforms.

You’ll also hear from Spacing Radio reporter Megan Hall who chats with contributing editor John Lorinc about his upcoming article in the spring issue of Spacing. John profiles Toronto’s first radical public health officer, Charles Hastings, and the plan 100 years ago to bring sanitation and good health to local slums.

And what would a debate between Toronto’s first mayor and our current mayor sound like? Spacing Radio dropped in on William Lyon MacKenzie vs. David Miller during Toronto’s 175th anniversary celebrations. Our featured musical act is Caribou — formerly known as Manitoba — a Hamilton-area DJ whose career took off while he attended the University of Toronto.

Links to stuff from Spacing Radio 002



  1. Sounds a little naive to say the NDP candidates had no “cities policies” simply because you didn’t see the word “cities.”

  2. Great show. Not sure what Dan (the first comment) is saying — you can clearly hear that there was more research done that just looking for the word “Cities” (obviously demonstrated in Mr. Reid’s analysis and the follow-up interviews).

    The NDP needed to reach out beyond the membership in this convention but instead made it an insular affair. If they concentrated on bringing more people into the fold they could have had a real discussion about what they need to do to attract more than 15% of the vote. But instead they listened to themselves tell each what they were doing wrong. And when that happens, no one is honest.

    And Metrolinx done in 10 years?!?!? Either Horwath is just saying that to get votes or she must believe in little-to-no public consultation. Even when the Enviro Assessment is cut to 6 months, planning and drawings will take 1-2 years with construction taking 3-5 years. Can all Metrolinx lines be created in that time? Not a chance. Either she is out to lunch or realizes that the NDP has no chance of ever getting their hands on the wheel of Ontario for a long time and can say whatever they want.

  3. There were many policies proposed by candidates that would benefit cities. Pretending that Prue was the only candidate, simply because his messaging used the word “cities” is disingenuous. I must admit I was really looking forward to this show, but there didn’t seem to be a thorough analysis. That’s strange for Spacing…

  4. Hi Dan,

    If you look at my Spacing blog post from the convention floor [ ], you’ll see that we looked not just for the word “cities”, but for any policies specific to the urban environment, including transit and Tabun’s platform positions on artists and immigrants. We looked through their entire platforms and their convention speeches.

    The candidates talked about issues specific to certain areas, notably Northern Ontario, and Horwath had a whole section on rural issues. These are important. But there are issues specific to cities that are also important, and it was striking that none of them but Prue addressed them head-on.

    Radio isn’t as precise a medium as print, and we couldn’t get everything in to the podcast, but what we say is based on more background research than just a scan for the word “cities”.

  5. Something else that strikes me is that when Tabuns and Horwath replied to Matt’s question about cars, the environment and sprawl, they both displayed a fluent and solid grasp of the relevant urban issues (which is not surprising given their time in municipal politics). It suggests that their avoidance of talking about urban issues explicitly was to some extent conscious (perhaps for the political reasons I suggest in the podcast), because it seems like they can talk about them fluently if they want to.

  6. An MPP from Hamilton along with featured music from Hamilton. Good job Spacing! Now, when are you guys going to come visit?

  7. A nit-picky “Buy Ontario” bus fact-check:
    -New Flyer buses are made in Winnipeg, not in Alberta, although most Alberta transit services use New Flyer vehicles.
    -New Flyer low floor buses also have a raised portion at the back, similar to the Orions. There is barely a difference. In fact, I’d say there is more room in the Orions. Anyway, having New Flyer buses doesn’t solve that space problem, it is a problem with the low floor design as a whole. Only the Quebec manufacturer NovaBus has managed to add more space at the back of their buses.
    -The real issue relates more to the costs of new light rail and subway vehicles, where international manufacturers, such as Siemens, often bid lower than Bombardier, which has a plant capable of making rail vehicles in Thunder Bay. Is the extra cost worth keeping jobs in Thunder Bay?