The decline and fall of our City of Toronto

From the city that actor Peter Ustinov described as “New York run by the Swiss,” the wonderful city to where I moved from my home in Palm Beach, Fla. in 1971 has been turned toward ruin.

Everywhere you look Downtown are the signs of a slipshod city hall.

Our infrastructure cracks and leaks.

Litter of all sorts is nearly everywhere.

Graffiti vandals deface anything they can reach and it stays there.

Drug works (syringes) are found in the baseball area of Crombie Park off The Esplanade. Unheard of a few years ago.

Automobile traffic is unsynchronized and frequently gridlocked.

Everywhere Downtown there is a sense of hazard and want.

This sad nosedive of Toronto to several giant steps below mediocrity for North American cities has accelerated under the Liberals in Queen’s Park and the Tories and Grits in Ottawa. That includes our current breathless-talking high-school drama teacher of a Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau.

But Toronto’s downfall began earlier. It was when voters dumbly selected one particular politician from a drawerful of dull knives. That produced the reign of our city’s foremost destroyer, ex-Premier Mike Harris (1995-2002), a stupid force so evil to our city who kickstarted our decline with his numbskull decree that the bigger a city is, the easier it is to make it efficient.

Thus was born the Common Simpleton’s Revolution (it had a slightly different official name1) and the buffoon decreed he would mush together in a “Megacity” the five surrounding Greater Toronto municipalities known as “the boroughs.”

Each of those had a distinct identity and government. Each had its own politics and ambitions. Each had its own dedicated political and bureaucratic structure. Its citizens and residents knew they were distinct and had the sort of civic pride that such recognition creates. They also each belonged to the Metropolitan Toronto council to deliberate on regional issues.

But along comes Mike Harris and former city halls were suddenly surplus and everything was shipped Downtown to Toronto City Hall and a 40-seat city council.

Now there is a concept that when you get past a deliberative-body size of 10 members, the overall IQ of the group and its rulings drops to the level of the dumbest member. That might mean Giorgio Mammoliti sets the IQ height of council as a whole. Or it could be another dingbat.

Of course “Amalgamation,” as it was called, started our city’s decline practically from the very get-go.

The municipal buildings in the boroughs were no longer the seat of local government although they remain as municipal facilities but controlled by The Megacity.

Until Harris, Toronto residents had a lively respectful civic aura and there was local civic pride in the soon-to-be-ruined boroughs.

The beneficiaries of the new Harrisite regime were the big-money types: bankers, developers, oligarchs. (Just as they continued to cash in under Kathleen Wynne.) Losers were the middle class, the huddled masses, those living in the remarkably well-run Cityhome (soon renamed Toronto Community Housing Corp., aka TCHC) and the public at large. Public housing should be a major provincial responsibility, but Harris and his swineherd saddled the new megacity with that unseemly burden and unloaded down upon TCHC the various scandal-ridden big-government public housing messes the Ontario government had operated in the boroughs.

The dysfunctional provincial public-housing disasters were suddenly the responsibility of the local taxpayers, along with the borough population of the new Megacity.

I once lived in Crombie Park Apartments, the then-Cityhome building just across the street from my present-day co-op home. I was an editor at Toronto Sun (under founding business editor Garth Turner) during that period. Crombie Park Apts. was well run and had two (yes, 2) resident managers who kept it that way.

One or the other resident manager was always on site 24/7.

Today there aren’t any resident managers and the exterior of those buildings on most days looks like a garbage dump in places.

So Cityhome has gone to ratshit and is renamed Toronto Community Housing Corp. The fascist2 Wynne provincial government panders to its potential “contributors” by selling facetime with ministers (like the federal Justin Trudeau fascist gang). Naturally it’s those with something to gain from a chance to pitch and seek great things from a Cabinet minister that inspires developers and other big-business types to open their wallets to the Liberals. Technically, it’s not a bribe. But in reality it surely qualifies as bribery.

Bankers are not the sort of people you want having influence over politicians. Bankers are rent seekers. Everything they touch costs someone money. When they touch your public officials, it costs you money.

Naturally Kathleen Wynne’s good buddy and partner in the selloff of public property to prop up her flailing Liberals is Ed Clark, former CEO of TD Bank.

Wynne corruptly sold off part of Hydro One to private owners in order to make up funds she incompetently squandered on the stupid hydro disaster she caused in Mississauga. Ed’s bank, which pays him $2.5M a year in retirement, also is now an owner of what will soon barely be your Hydro One. TD got the banker’s commission and also part of your electricity company.

It’s an outrage. When corrupt politicians abuse the public trust to bankroll their continuance in power it’s time to consider that misdeed might be a criminal act of conversion. At the least Wynne and her regime should be investigated by police.

Of course that could only be done by the replacement government after the ersatz and misnamed Liberals are booted out of power, which is almost a certainty despite their attempts to bribe Ontario voters.

To that end they’ll make Toronto suffer even more. The Gardiner Expressway is maintained at Toronto taxpayers’ expense.

While our need to upgrade the Gardiner is paramount, Wynne stands in the way of making that vital-to-the-suburbs link a toll road in order to pander to non-Toronto voters who commute to and from the suburbs. Toronto taxpayers fund the Gardiner which is mainly used by suburbanites.

And like so much else, it’s another thread yanked from the fabric of our increasingly less-great City of Toronto.

Our situation reminds me of the Donald Trump presidential campaign which, despite the oddity that he is, won him the U.S. presidency with his call to “make America great again.”

Make Toronto Great Again would be a fitting tag for any honourable political party that seeks to dethrone Wynne and her gang in the next provincial election and do an honourable job of running Ontario’s government.

— Frank Touby

1 Common Sense Revolution

2 Fascism is the merger of corporate and government power:

— Benito Mussolini, WWII dictator of Italy