Response received from sitting MP for Spadina-Fort York, Adam Vaughan:
Q: Are you in favour, against, or undecided regarding the Sidewalk Labs proposal for our Toronto waterfront?
A: I have concerns and I am waiting to see WaterfrontTO’s assessment before taking a position.
Q: Have you had discussions with Sidewalk Labs, Google or Alphabet since 2016? How many times and on what topics?
A: I have met with all sides in this debate after every milestone. Meetings have included Sidewalk Lab and Alphabet staff. I have also met with former board members of WaterfrontTO and Community organizations, attended the Block Sidewalk town halls, I’ve also met with Bianca Wylie privately, as well as leaders of local neighbourhood associations in order to hear as many views as possible. I’ve also attended open houses and public information sessions and read the full documentation of the proposal. All meetings have been logged in accordance with Parliamentary rules. It is critical that elected officials keep the door and minds open during proposal stage.
Q: Do you believe it is important for our governments to protect people with strong, modern, privacy and data governance laws before a plan that proposes widespread data collection on our city streets is evaluated or approved?
A: To every extent possible. Tech innovation often happens faster than legislative processes and it can be difficult to predict where data collection is going before it is invented and therefor difficult to stay ahead of the pace of change. We do need legislation in this area, both locally and federally
Q: Sidewalk Labs has responded to Waterfront Toronto’s RFP for a 12-acre site with a proposal for 190 acres of publicly owned waterfront land. Do you believe it's appropriate for the agency to entertain proposals for public assets that have not been put out for bidding?
A: First things first: stage one needs to be assessed on its merits before claims are made about the larger site. It is also important to note that WaterfrontTO cannot assign permissions to property it doesn’t own.
Q: In the US, 50 state attorney generals are attempting to break up Alphabet to reduce its market power. Do you think helping Alphabet gain a foothold in Canada makes sense in this context? Why or why not?
A: Interesting idea. Unsure we have regulatory authority.
Q: While Waterfront Toronto has the initial power to move the project forward, ultimately all three levels of government will be consulted before it finally is approved. If elected, what will you do to protect constituents’ interests and rights in relation to the Sidewalk Labs smart city project?
A: Unlike past joint ventures where all orders of govt had assets or financing packages, WaterfrontTO owns the site and it alone is deciding whether or not to proceed with an application. It will be the city’s decision on whether to approve it or not. There is, in fact, no federal jurisdiction here. Asking another order of government to veto a WaterfrontTO project sets a very dangerous precedent. Any suggestion that the federal or provincial government have a veto would be putting WaterfrontTO existence at extreme risk. Personally, I would never support giving Doug Ford veto power over WaterfrontTO. Expecting the federal goverment to step in where it does not have authority sets a grave precedent. I will not act recklessly, nor will I deliberately undermine WaterfrontTO.