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2013 Villain: Porter Airlines

Nominated for: trying to use public space for private interests.

Torontoist is ending the year by naming our Heroes and Villains: the very best and very worst people, places, things, and ideas that have had an influence on the city over the past 12 months. Cast your ballot until 2 p.m. on January 1. At 4 p.m. we will reveal your choices for Toronto’s Superhero and Supervillain of the year.

villain porter brett lamb

Beware the uniformed raccoon.

Adorable, yes, but also conniving, and indifferent to its effect on the surrounding environment. In other words, the ideal mascot for Porter Airlines.

In its few years of existence Porter has won over many skeptical minds with free cashews, booze poured in real glasses, and pillbox hat-wearing flight attendants. But however successful Porter has been—one hundred times more passengers use the island airport than did seven years ago—its stylish branding and nice perks are not a substitute for being a good or honest tenant of Toronto’s waterfront.

When he launched Porter, CEO Robert Deluce promised that jets were not a part of the airline’s business model. He scoffed at a 2003 mayoral campaign ad that featured two dozen jets in the air, arguing that the image was misleading. But now, it turns out he wants jets, 30 in all, and would like to re-open a 30-year-old tripartite agreement that currently prohibits them. And it needs to happen now: there’s a conditional order for those planes sitting on a Bombardier executive’s desk.

We are told not to worry about the accompanying traffic that would come from another doubling of flights, or potential health risks, or how this might limit the kind of waterfront development we might want. We are told not to worry about the $300 million cost of extending the runway by four football fields into Lake Ontario, although no one has stood up and said they will pay for it. We are told not to worry about a potential influx of flights to the airport, since it’s currently limited to 200 flight slots anyway. Sure, the change would mean that any jets that meet the noise requirements could fly there, and flight slots could change, and WestJet really wants to join the party, but just don’t worry.

Don’t worry, we’re told, because the raccoon is cute and innocent, and is just trying to survive in its raccoon way. Forget that this is a debate about giving private companies control over public space, about how we plan for and think about our waterfront, about the wisdom of re-opening broad agreements for specific business interests over which we have little control.

Beware the uniformed raccoon.



  • A_Change_Has_Gotta_Come

    Yes, Porter Airlines, Robert Deluce and the TPA, a bunch of liars who cannot be trusted. Mislead, deceive and / or obfuscate. That is how they operate and Torontonians, and especially, City Councillors, need to know this.

  • Diane Samuel

    Porter Airlines is the villain of the year for taking out many high priced ads in the National Post, the Star and Globe and Mail readers to misinform readers that a citizens’ group wants to close down their airport, rather than that they are protesting against the proposal for jet expansion.

    WaterfrontTO, ex- mayors David Miller and John Crombie, urban developer, Jack Diamond and urban planners, Ken Greenberg and Paul Bedford are opposed to this jet expansion, and Toronto’s Board of Health voted unanimously against it, too. The burden of pollution around the airport is already 15% higher than the rest of Toronto.

    Porter also bused in their employees to fill the seats at a public consultation so that fewer of their opponents had seats, and lobbied Mayor Ford without signing in as lobbyists.

  • OpportKnocks

    Agree Deluce/Porter and his Corporate Welfare enablers at the TPA and in the Federal Cabinet (take a bow Lisa and Jim) are easily the villains of the year in Toronto.

    There is no good reason that travellers to vacation destinations and on other 4-5 hour flights cannot spend an extra 20 or 30 minutes and fly out of Pearson.

    There is no reason to reverse the 40 years of progress and billions of dollars that has been invested in converting our central waterfront from a derelict post-industrial wasteland into a marvellous asset for the community, recreation and tourism.

  • andrew97

    If Westjet actually wanted to fly jets out of the island airport, they would be applying to the TPA and Transport Canada, not talking to the Globe and Mail. All they really wanted to do was two things: get their names in the paper and yank Deluce’s chain.

    That Globe article notes that Billy Bishop is at capacity, so most of the new jet service (by Porter, Westjet, or anyone else) will come at the expense of existing propeller service. An optimist would say this would limit the impact of jet service from the island, a pessimist would be looking for Porter to propose a second runway.

  • OgtheDim

    “300 million to extend the runway is trump change,”

    Chump I think is what you mean, And given how much various people yell and scream around Toronto about $500 bunny suits, I would suggest 30% of a BILLION is a bit more then pocket change.


    On another note, of all the stories this year, there was only one where it was rather obvious that a concerted effort was being made to provide opinions from a certain viewpoint as much as possible:

    support for Porter and the airport expansion.

    I’m not sure if it was paid for, or just people who work for the firm. But, it was rather obvious.

    Now, before you call me just a person against Porter or the Island airport, I can tell you I am not sure if the airport expansion is a good thing or not. But, we MUST do this with due process.