Special Report: Light Rail

An Open Letter to MP Filomena Tassi Regarding Her Hamilton Colleague

As a federal Member of Parliament, Bob Bratina should not be sowing discord in the community he purportedly represents.

By Richard Gelder
Published May 10, 2017

Dear Ms. Tassi,

I am writing to you as a constituent regarding an unsettling op-ed that appeared in today's Hamilton Spectator, written by your caucus-mate, Bob Bratina, Member of Parliament for Hamilton East - Stoney Creek.

I would consider writing Mr. Bratina directly, but I don't think he really appreciates the damage he has wrought in penning what is essentially an attack on the most important city-building project this region has seen in at least a generation. Besides, you are my Member of Parliament and I think you might have some sway with your Liberal colleague.

It is, indeed, rich to see Mr. Bratina decry Hamilton City Council as "dysfunctional" - a Council over which he himself presided during his tenure as Mayor between 2010 and 2014, also having served as a Councillor for years prior to that, occasionally slinging writing utensils across the Council chamber.

But what is deeply disappointing is that, for once, the city has actually come together to finally support the Light Rail Transit (LRT) project, which, in addition to bringing in a large amount of resources to address the infrastructure deficit in Hamilton, will launch a revolution in how we get around this city.

It is upsetting that, now that the community is finally coming together and actively talking about how businesses in the LRT corridor can be supported during the temporary upheaval caused by construction, your Commons colleague has chosen to re-ignite and pour gasoline on a recently-extinguished fire.

As a federal Member of Parliament, Mr. Bratina should not be sowing discord in the community he purportedly represents. Does he not have bigger, or at least more federal, fish to fry? (Steelworker pensions come immediately to mind.)

Shouldn't he be a cheerleader for his community, particularly in areas for which he does not have immediate jurisdictional oversight?

I shudder to think of the prospect of the likes of Mr. Bratina as a federal minister with infrastructure or cities as part of his portfolio. Rather, it seems as though he is more interested in settling old political scores at the expense of what is right for Hamilton.

I am asking you, as my Member of Parliament, to use whatever influence you have to rein Mr. Bratina in, for his musings are damaging for the long-term prosperity of the city.

I know you care about the riding you represent, and the well-being of the region as a whole. I need not point out that every City Councillor in areas overlapping your constituency voted recently to support LRT going forward, being Wards 1, 8, 12 and 13.

Please do what you can to encourage Mr. Bratina to, at the very least, not be a barrier to this project and this city moving forward.

Richard Gelder is an educator who lives in Dundas with his partner, Catherine, and two sons, Liam and Jamie. He commutes by bicycle and cares passionately about bicycles, track and field and all things Hamilton.

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By RobF (registered) | Posted May 10, 2017 at 08:22:51

I shudder to think of the prospect of the likes of Mr. Bratina as a federal minister with infrastructure or cities as part of his portfolio. Rather, it seems as though he is more interested in settling old political scores at the expense of what is right for Hamilton.

I don't. Sideshow Bob is the definition of a back-bencher. Trudeau (the father) called them nobodies 50 yards from Parliament Hill. Does anyone actually pay attention to him?

We paid attention to him when he was mayor because we had to. Best to just ignore him and not give his views on LRT and city-building more attention than they deserve.

Perhaps he's causing trouble to improve his chances of becoming a senator.

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By Core-B (registered) | Posted May 10, 2017 at 12:57:08 in reply to Comment 121498

You're absolutey right in saying nobody listens to him or knows that he's there. The last time our Premier was in town it had to be brought to her attention that he was in the room. Attendance in the room was by invitation only, so it was not a huge gathering. Did she not know he was there or just didn't want to acknowledge his presence?? I'm going with the latter.

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By KevinLove (registered) | Posted May 10, 2017 at 16:45:25 in reply to Comment 121499

For these sorts of events, the invitations will typically be issued by the premier's aides, based upon guidelines issued by her office.

So Kathleen Wynne would know that for these sorts of events, her guidelines to her aides are to invite the local MPs. She probably simply did not recognize Mr. Bratina.

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By notlloyd (registered) - website | Posted May 10, 2017 at 20:58:03

Do you really think Bob Bratina's only motivation is to sew discontent? Maybe he, like the majority of Hamiltonians, just don't want the LRT. Isn't that a possibility?

There is nothing wrong with giving your opinion. There is nothing wrong with disagreeing about something. There is nothing wrong with trying to prevent something that you view as being misguided and wrong.

Until the planners tell me how they are going to get traffic in and out of downtown under the current model, I am against this project regardless of the positive aspects of it. As I have said here may times, if they ran the line down Hughson and over the top of the railway tracks out to the bike trail all the way to Dundas I would be all for it.

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By bobby2 (registered) | Posted May 11, 2017 at 16:44:36 in reply to Comment 121501

Notlloyd- Afraid your comment will be totally ignored as LRT on Raise The Hammer does not want or support opposing opinions. Everyone on RTH may be absolutely correct in their opinions, it's just the attitude that don't debate, consider, maybe their is a down side to their opinion re: LRT that is so disappointing. I hope, I pray that our Politicians are correct on going forward with LRT, I just wish that everyone continued to evaluate the project on all levels, good & bad. Ryan will label me a troll, but sorry, I'm just a alternative view.

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By RobF (registered) | Posted May 12, 2017 at 09:43:13 in reply to Comment 121507

Bobby2 there is a difference between not wanting and not supporting. As far as I can tell no one is stopping you from publishing opposing views as either as a comment or submission to RTH. That said, I'm free not to agree or support your views.

I don't take issue with Bratina writing a comment piece for the Spectator, but I don't think we should give it more weight that it deserves. It's highly unlikely that he'll ever become a government minister, because he lacks the substance.

His own comments on the LRT reveal that. He mostly took jabs at the current Mayor and Council and argued that LRT will put downtown regeneration/revitalization at risk ... if you think that's a debate, then you believe in shadow-boxing. As in: Council should never do anything that departs from the status quo or even actually debate ideas, because that is divisive and makes you look dysfunctional. Really. You think that's a way forward. Take a look at history. Important changes, particularly progressive ones, seldom happen that way.

Bratina's real message: everything works great in Hamilton. Don't change a thing. Some of us like being able to drive thru lower city neighbourhoods. To hell with what that does to those neighbourhoods as places for people outside their cars.

Will LRT be disruptive: yes. It will change things. That change won't please everyone. But 20 or 50 years from now we'll have a different city and we need to think about how it will work and work better than now. If that is the debate that Sideshow Bob and you want lots of people are willing to have that. If it is just FUD, then no.

Comment edited by RobF on 2017-05-12 09:46:36

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By Deleted User (anonymous) | Posted May 12, 2017 at 18:08:14 in reply to Comment 121512

If you truly believe that we'll still be running the LRT in fifty years I've got a bridge to sell you. *FIFTY* years? You must be joking. By the most conservative estimate autonomous traffic will dominate our streets in *forty* years. We'll probably see it within the next 10 however considering the pace of technology. I'll bet anyone that a fully autonomous road vehicle will be available to the consumer or B2B market by the time they break the ribbon on the LRT.

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By RobF (registered) | Posted May 13, 2017 at 07:29:52 in reply to Comment 121515

I suppose if your vision for the future is Broadacres City then holding out for self-driving cars makes sense.

If u want a livable and sustainable city this is pure delusion. And the futurists were forecasting jet packs and hover boards in the 1960s

Comment edited by RobF on 2017-05-13 07:31:18

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By JasonL (registered) | Posted May 10, 2017 at 22:10:44

Does anyone in Ottawa even know who Bob Bratina is??

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By Haveacow (registered) | Posted May 11, 2017 at 17:36:35

@notlloyd, If you are worried how car traffic from the suburbs of Hamilton bound for downtown Hamilton in the morning peak hours will get out of downtown Hamilton back to suburban Hamilton in the afternoon peak hours during the construction and operation of the LRT line, then that is a legitimate question. If you are asking whether traffic leaving Hamilton through downtown in the morning peak hours and coming back into town through downtown in the afternoon peak hours will be blocked or inhibited by the LRT line then, that is part of the problem! This is the only major Ontario city I have ever seen who's road network forces its central area to function as the neck of a commuter traffic funnel to take primarily car traffic and a large proportion of its working population out of town to go somewhere else, every business day. That needs to change if your city plans to survive in the long term.

Your LRT line will make it easier for you to get around in your city especially as a transit passenger. The economic uplift from LRT will be focusing more jobs and development into Hamilton instead of somewhere else. Lessening the need to have so much traffic leave your city every day to go somewhere else, just to go to work.

Should a transit line eventually go in the direction of Dundas yes but not the first one. The focusing of transit passenger traffic travel in the city as opposed to going out of it is of prime importance. If you want your transit lines to just reinforce the existing travel pattern that takes the population outside of your city via your road network then, you will have a relatively busy line that just ends up focusing development and its benefits to somewhere else, for another community's benefit, at your operating expense.

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted May 12, 2017 at 05:17:13

She has replied. Well, sort of.

http://ftassi.liberal.ca/news-nouvelles/...

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