Three weeks ago I had the opportunity to get a first-hand look at one of Toronto’s most deceptive NGOs. The TTCRiders puts great effort into making themselves look like a genuine grassroots passenger’s advocacy group. But look down past the surface and you’ll see a blatant conflict-of-interest – the “passenger’s union” has become captive to the money and causes favoured by the ATU driver’s union.
Depending on who their leaders are talking to, the TTCRiders are either a legitimate grassroots organization representing over 1.8 million transit users, an activist group backed by 10,000 enthusiastic supporters- or (the truth) a gang of 120 grassroots impersonators originating from the labour and climate change movements.
Tired of the same old deceptive tactics, the old dogs running the TTCriders tried a new trick on Friday. Their new tactic was a real laugh riot- as fraudulent as it was grossly inept. It also raises an interesting question- did their leaders decide to fudge 200 signatures out of desperation to make themselves appear less insignificant, or are they so pathological they simply couldn’t resist the temptation?
Our story begins back in February when the TTCRiders setup a change.org petition. The document praised the city’s decision to build a Scarborough subway extension and called on Mayor John Tory to complement it with a 17 station LRT line.
Like the vast majority of Change.org petitions, the TTCriders’ was an embarrassing failure. A Google archive snapshot taken on May 16th documents how they only collected 204 of the 500 signatures they’d hoped for.
The TTCriders recently changed their tune on the Scarborough extension after the city announced plans to only add one new station instead of the originally promised three. On Friday they launched what appeared to be a brand new petition.
But if you look closely at their Change.org page it doesn’t take long to realise that there’s something fishy going on. The first clue comes from the comments section. Many of the postings were 5-6 months old and made zero sense in the context of this new initiative.
So, what’s going on here?
Well, it turns out that this week’s petition isn’t actually new. It’s the exact same Change.org petition they published back in February that originally praised the Scarborough extension. The only difference between the original posting and Friday’s update is that the latter now calls for the city to scrap the extension project.
This is where the fraud element comes to play. The TTCRiders’ Change.org web page boasts how they’ve already recruited a whopping 297 supporters for their “new petition”. Sounds impressive, but as we learned from Googles snapshot, at least 204 of the signatures were collected on or before April 16th. So basically, two-thirds of the people listed as signatories actually never signed this week’s petition. The best case tally is no higher than 93, but might be significantly lower depending on how many people signed the old petition between April 16th and June 24th.
Stay tuned for future stories about the adventures of Canada’s most credibility challenged Astroturf transit advocates, the unions that love them, and the politicians who benefit from their “awareness raising” hijinx! The TTCRiders are a gift that keeps on giving…