Start-Up Airline Accuses City Of Abusing Power
They've been threatening to do it
for a long time. Now, Regional Airlines Holdings has filed a
massive lawsuit against the city of Toronto (ON) over a 125-yard
long bridge to the Toronto City Centre Airport. The bridge would
allow the number of flights from the island airport to increase
from five to 55.
The $389 million (US) suit charges Toronto Mayor David Miller,
who campaigned for office on a promise to stop the bridge project,
"abused his powers of public office."
"I was quite shocked at the personal nature of the allegations,"
Miller said. "It's absurd, it's outrageous, it's nonsense, it's
unbelievable, it's ridiculous. Does anybody have a thesaurus? There
must be some other words to describe it. It's ludicrous. To claim
$500 million for an airline that only exists on paper is just
But REGCO is deadly serious about the suit. It accuses Miller of
threatening Toronto city council members "with a failure to appoint
them to key council committees and other posts if they voted
against his wishes" about killing the bridge project.
The council had already approved the bridge -- not once, but
twice -- in November 2002 and June 2003. But after Miller took
office, the city council voted 28-16 last month to scrap the bridge
REGCO CEO Robert Deluce says his company has already signed
contracts and hired workers based on increasing the numer of
flights from Toronto Island.
The airport is run by a combination of the city government,
Canadian federal government and the Toronto Port Authority. REGCO
is suing all three and says it might add more defendants to the
suit before it's all over.
During Miller's campaign, Air Canada Jazz expressed interest in
flying from the airport and hinted it might use regional jets to do
so. That letter became public and became a flashpoint for
anti-airport interests who built their argument on noise and
Prior to the election which swept him into office, Miller
co-opted bridge opponents into his campaign. The REGCO suit takes
the issue a step further, saying Miller favored Air Canada Jazz
over startup REGCO. That Air Canada Jazz letter, according to the
suit, was part of Miller's campaign strategy.
Toronto City Council members seem to have been expecting the
"I certainly believe they (REGCO) have incurred some costs over
our dealings," Council Member Doug Holyday said. But he also
indicated the suit was a bit too pricey. "Lots of times people sue
for a lot more than they ever expect to get, and I think that
probably would be the case here as well."
"This is David Miller's lawsuit because he, in fact, promised
the taxpayers of the city of Toronto, that we wouldn't be on the
hook on this. ... Any costs, David Miller has to take full
responsibility for, from this day forward," said another council
member, Denzil Minnan-Wong, in an interview with the Toronto