John Tory: Mr. Speaker, there is nothing more important for Toronto than making sure our housing is safe, affordable and safe to visit. I do not think anyone would argue the fact that the streets in Toronto are dangerous or unsafe and that’s a problem.
That’s why at the last election, on the housing issue, I put forward a very strong policy that I thought would make things easier. We went the most radical option we could conceive of, which was lifting the prohibition. I thought it would go a long way to making sure that hotels stayed safe, affordable, and safe for everybody, and anyone who wanted to stay.
What happened? On Monday night, many members from all of our parties voted against me and voted against that process. Now, I know there was nothing about this that was wrong with the option. What I did think was wrong was to introduce this knowing full well there were people who were not happy with the fact that they had to pay a very high rate, the rates on a one-room occupancy that the Crown has used to try to fight downsizing and more people, more people to move to the city.
This was supposed to solve the other problem. The other problem is is that the plan of the previous city council, I think, was to get rid of the Crown. This is a Crown. Now, you can not have Toronto’s rooms but the people living in them. I also think people who live in them need to know who they are. People need to have a voice. People need to know that they are being represented. People need to know that their voices are being heard, especially folks who have nowhere else to go. That is not the kind of approach to government that I would like to see us move forward with, and I will never advocate it.
Now, let me point out some things that are more interesting to look at. This process ended up with 1,500 very passionate people who came out to the square and gave us so much great experience. This is Toronto. I don’t believe in boycotts. I do not believe in shutting out those who are going to say no.
I think in an open, transparent way. The way I would handle things is at the appropriate time we would get all the information. I don’t think that is the approach the process took.