News worth highlighting – from the Toronto Star:

[Incoming premier Kathleen Wynne] signalled she is ready to lead the way when it comes to funding transit to reduce traffic gridlock and boost the economy by helping Greater Toronto and Hamilton residents be more productive.

Asked specifically about fallout from putting tolls on existing roads such as the Gardiner Expressway, she replied firmlywynnejan29_jpg_size_xxlarge_promo: “I’m not saying that … we won’t have to spend political capital to get a revenue stream in place — we absolutely will.

“But if people want to see new infrastructure, if they want to see the transit that we need in the GTHA (Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area) we are going to have to raise the revenue,” said Wynne.

“You’ve got all the city-builders and thinkers saying it. The people in CivicAction, the people at the Toronto Board of Trade — the Toronto Board of Trade has canvassed its members … and those are businesspeople,” she said.

“They recognize that it’s critical for their businesses that this happen so I’m very convinced that this is the moment that we have to step forward.”

Citing the June 2011 board of trade report, Reaching Top Speed, warning gridlock costs the local economy $6 billion annually, Wynne said the situation is urgent.

“The reason I put that out in my leadership campaign was that I wanted everyone to know that I’m going to do that. I’m not going to retreat on that,” she said, noting Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion, one of her prominent supporters, has emphasized the need for revenue tools for transit. …

Wynne also made the point that user-pay measures should appeal to right-of-centre voters.

“If that’s not a conservative policy then I don’t know what is.”

This adds a new dynamic: real leadership from the top.

In B.C., the Premier has only indicated what she’s against, not what she would support.  The Minister of Transportation has only articulated rules for discussion, not taken a position.  The NDP is avoiding as much as it can any pre-election obligations.  The business community is largely silent.  Individual mayors have talked up road pricing, but the Mayors Council has neither staff nor mandate to pursue it.  And the Board of TransLink – well, it doesn’t involve itself in ‘politics’; it’s there to manage the decline of the transit system.  Meanwhile the Pattullo Bridge and Massey Tunnel replacements continue to move forward.

There is, consequently, no one to set the bar, to begin the negotiations, to spend political capital in pursuit of a vision for “the transit that we need.”

Our absence of leadership really becomes apparent when it’s visible somewhere else.