Politics

Larry Di Ianni, the Liberal Party and the Stadium Debacle

By Undustrial
Published August 26, 2010

Larry Di Ianni has been keeping very quiet on this stadium issue. And for good reason: this issue is a hot potato if ever there was one.

Mayor Fred Eisenberger knows this. Raise the Hammer was knee deep in this long before he took a solid public stand on the issue, and now people are trying to paint the issue as if he was Lex Luthor and the West Harbor Stadium was his secret plan.

Did the Mayor knowingly withhold information about a phone call from Provincial Liberals? I don't know. I certainly wouldn't trust a word they said at this point - especially if they're leaking details of these conversations to his opponents in the fall election.

If anyone can be accused of having a secret plan, it's Larry Di Ianni. Aside from the fact that he uses the same adviser, Eric Cunningham, as the Ticats, he's also got strong connections to "higher ups" and it's clear that they still feel he can be useful. He ran Federally for the Liberals two short years ago, in one of Canada's most infamous ridings - Hamilton East-Stoney Creek.

What does all of this have to do with the Liberal Party? A fair bit. To see how, we need to go back in time to a simpler age, where the city has a few more trees and one less highway.

The Hamilton East Riding

At the dawn of the Di Ianni era, while he battled David Christopherson for the Mayor's seat, there was a far more brutal battle going on in the background.

Everyone loved Prime Minister Jean Chretien, seemingly no matter what he did. But at the end of his era, a big battle took place for the future of the party, and a large part of that played out right here in Hammertown.

On the left were the "kinder, softer, gentler" Liberals, led by former Deputy PM Sheila Copps. On the right were the fiscally conservative former Finance Minister Paul Martin and his supporters.

In an epic battle, Copps battled former Transport Minister Tony Valeri for the new Hamilton East-Stoney Creek riding and lost, helping to consolidate Martin's control over the party.

Copps was named in a $75 million City of Hamilton lawsuit against the Federal Government for attempting to impose an Environmental Assessment on the highway project, which the City claimed constituted "targeted malice" intended to delay the project.

Valeri was a well-known highway supporter.

The federal Liberals were fed to the proverbial lions after "Adscam" broke, only confirming what much of the country had always believed about them. Di Ianni himself, as Mayor, was charged and convicted of violating the Municipal Elections Act over illegal campaign donations. He lost the next election to Eisenberger.

All Roads Lead to Red Hill

The outcome of all these games - the construction of the Red Hill Valley Parkway and subsequent development boom on the East Mountain are all a direct result of the work of Larry Di Ianni.

Highway opponents predicted this boom and sounded the alarm about development corruption and collusion in Di Ianni's campaign long before anyone else.

Groups spawned by prominent highway opponents (such as CATCH) were also among those first to warn about frequent flooding in the East End as a result of this development, and the inability of our infrastructure to handle billions of dollars of homes and parking lots draining into it.

The first time this happened, it was written off as a "once in a century" storm that had simply overwhelmed our storm sewers with its pure force. Then it started happening yearly, or even several times a year.

While the price of upgrading our sewer systems and paying out to people who had their basements ruined will fall on the shoulders of taxpayers, the profits from the developments will go to corporations like Multi-Area Developments, whose massive Summit Park development required the completion of the highway and whose owner was one of the illegal over-contributors to Di Ianni's 2003 election campaign.

East Mountain

Without the Red Hill and the Linc, without the booming East Mountain development, and without hundreds of millions of dollars of Hamilton's money thrown into this sprawling development, the East Mountain stadium wouldn't even be a possibility.

No matter what he wants to admit in public, the East Mountain Stadium is the "Larry Di Ianni" option. Whether he wants to admit it or not, a lot of blame for this nonsense falls clearly on Di Ianni's shoulders.

To argue that "the marketplace wants an East Mountain stadium", as people like Herman Turkstra have, is an absolutely falsehood. Every step of this process has been paved with hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars, and if we commit to a stadium which the city's own reports state will cost tens of millions more.

There is nothing "free market" about spending this kind of public money for the enrichment of already famously wealthy citizens.

If an East Mountain stadium is ever built, I've got a suggestion for a name: The Red Hill Valley Memorial Stadium.

Undustrial is a writer, tinkerer, activist and father who lives in Hamilton's North End. He chooses to remain pseudonymous as he frequently works with much of Hamilton's Development industry.

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By mrjanitor (registered) | Posted August 26, 2010 at 08:42:32

To be conned out of your money you have to be a willing participant, you have to be led to believe you will get something incredible for your small financial commitment. Your greed is the tool that is used to pry your money away from you. Hamiltonians were conned into thinking they were getting millions of easy "Pan-Am" dollars for the relatively small investment from the huge pot of taxpayer money called the Future Fund. Well guess what, the elite of this city (Bob Young, Larry DiIanni, Turkstra, Mercanti, Foxcroft, etc.) suckered us citizens in so the FF money would come up on the table for them to take from us. Because we were naive and willing our downtown development FF cash will be stolen from us. We have been played by the very best, the threat of losing the Ti-Cats will have most in the city OK with the FF theft. Do you think Bob Young was stupid when he first sucked us in in January with his "We'll make any site work" interview? I think that was planned disinformation, he never was going to support the West Harbour. But he sure got us and our wallet to the table now didn't he (and they)!

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By Jorge (anonymous) | Posted August 26, 2010 at 09:44:57

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted August 26, 2010 at 09:55:28

^See, it's rational, evidence-based, well thought out arguments like Jorge's that make it so hard to decide which stadium location is best.

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By Kiely (registered) | Posted August 26, 2010 at 10:55:54

Great article Undustrial!

Oh and Mayor Fred is no Lex Luthor : )

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By matthewsweet (registered) | Posted August 26, 2010 at 11:08:31

Kiely, you are correct. Lex Luthor had charisma. =D

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By Kevin H (anonymous) | Posted August 26, 2010 at 11:38:10

Fred's office staff and core campaign team are all Liberals too. I guess they're hedging their bets.

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By realfreeenterpriser (registered) | Posted August 26, 2010 at 11:46:48

Well, Jorge certainly has away with words doesn't he?

It's kind of tough to refute such a compelling argument. His eloquence and logic are such that there's simply no need for a rationale.

I hope to attend some of his lectures this Fall.

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By race_to_the_bottom (anonymous) | Posted August 26, 2010 at 11:58:04

Funny thing, DiIanni's campaign team is packed with Conservatives (like Ken Audziss). It's like they swapped campaign teams.

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By Guffaw (anonymous) | Posted August 26, 2010 at 22:22:44

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By deepthnkr (anonymous) | Posted August 26, 2010 at 22:29:47

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By Yessir (anonymous) | Posted August 27, 2010 at 15:06:41

Glad to see somebody making the links between east-city developments and east mountain developers.

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted August 28, 2010 at 00:02:55

No Red Hill Parkway would mean no East Mountain stadium, period.

And though Confederation Park, the MIP and other sites would all still available, but they're all still better choices than the East Mountain.

We need to view the stadium issue as a small part in a much bigger set of issues. Urban sprawl, car dependence, and municipal spending. Not just as a cash grab from higher levels of government.

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By Guffaw (anonymous) | Posted August 28, 2010 at 05:45:26

I have to agree with Undustrial....and it couldn't have been written better than if Don Maclean had written it.

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By Woody10 (registered) | Posted August 30, 2010 at 14:47:09

It scares me to think L D might be mayor again.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted August 30, 2010 at 14:54:40

I hope Bratina runs. It will split the anti-Fred vote.

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By Then again (anonymous) | Posted September 01, 2010 at 06:53:43

It will also split the progressive vote

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By ENBertussi (registered) - website | Posted May 09, 2013 at 22:22:23

Larry, thought it was best to keep the promises made in the heady early days of the deep penetration of automotive culture to land development speculators who had made purchases and long bets on the east mountain.

without a long view to the social impacts to the greater urban lower city by en large, he did what, turns to be one of the worst cases of Hamilton history pandering to corporate interests and automotive culture.

it is a damn shame that Hamilton could not prevent the Red Hill express-way a highway that has expedited the loss of farmland and the decay of the urban fabric of Hamilton.

I don't buy his excuse, and it can't be called anything more than an excuse that he was keeping promises made 60 years ago by unapologetic automotive mono culture neophytes. It seems to be that his lack of progressive view has helped stymie the evolution and rehabilitation and fragmentation of urban vrs sprawl inhabitants of Hamilton.

He has truly and totally exacerbated the efforts of Hamiltonians interested in a renaissance of the city culturally and economically.

one of the blackest marks on Hamilton's history.

ENB..//

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