By Frank Touby –
If Downtown were a city of its own—not a bad idea, by the way—there might be an overthrow of the government in the works. At least that’s what The Bulletin’s online poll at www.thebulletin.ca would indicate. (The poll is ongoing for a while longer, so there’s still time to post your own choice. Only one vote per computer is accepted.)
What it shows so far appears to be a distinct desire to replace 60% of our Downtown councillors. Pam McConnell, Kyle Rae and Joe Pantalone thus far are faring the worst. Adam Vaughan and Paula Fletcher do better, but most poll voters would replace them, too.
Most votes were cast during the outrageous strike by those elites among workers, the members of public-sector labour unions. That might have tainted the online poll. You can see early results shown here, as online voters were able to pick one councillor and elect to keep or fire him or her. Now that more folks know about the poll—including the affected politicians—let’s see how things evolve now.
It doesn’t much matter whether a city-hall politician is revered or despised; the cards are neatly stacked in the incumbent’s favour. Incumbents have an array of handy platforms to display their names and faces and also the ability to make points with moneyed interests in the business world. Since only a small fraction of those eligible to vote do so in city elections, one might conclude the rest have thrown up their hands in defeat to the establishment that rarely loses.
Or one might conclude that most folks are content with how things are going.
Downtown and most of the former City of Toronto is quite different from the conglomerated mess the Mike Harris meanies made out of our city. We’re as different from Scarborough as we are from Etobicoke and North York. We’re city, they’re suburbs. Yet now we’re all one big ungovernable, dysfunctional mess. There are business interests that can thrive in such disarray, but they’re usually not small business types.
If city hall were intent upon benefiting small businesses, as one might suppose with an alleged bunch of lefties in charge, the ruling majority wouldn’t be wasting our funding resources making train sets out of streetcars. It doesn’t benefit the small retail businesses that get wrecked while city hall tears up the streets to replace tracks every few years—or removes their on-street parking for a dedicated monster-concrete tramway.
Nope. That mainly benefits the businesses that are big enough to have unionized employees: streetcar manufacturers, concrete companies, construction companies, heavy equipment contractors. Big business. These council ideologues of the “left” are in reality big-business types. They relate to bureaucracy of the sort that regulates corporations—and government—and big-biz unions. That’s not the stuff that most of Toronto relates to.
This was apparent during that recently ended atrocity committed by two CUPE unions against the public that city council is elected to serve and protect. Councillors just eased back. While the public they badly serve was wrongly harassed and harmed by union actions, city councillors didn’t intervene on behalf of citizens. Even the police reportedly overlooked misdemeanours committed in front of their eyes against citizens by union picketers. City councillors, those who were in town at all, seemed more concerned with conciliating your unionized city workers than they did serving you. But then, the next election is a long way from now, memories are short, and you know how well incumbents do…
While you must blame Mayor David Miller and his Downtown councillors—who vote with him on his executive council—for letting things get so out of hand with the unions, you must also blame the government that replaced the previous bad guys in Queen’s Park: Premier Dalton McGuinty.
The province has the power and the duty to protect us from being harmed by city workers. In exchange for the higher wages and superior benefits civil servants receive, it’s wrong for them to deprive citizens of the services they have paid for with their taxes. Strikes should be out of the question for civic workers. Perhaps public worker unions should be prohibited. After all, it is civil servants who provide civilization. Is it right for them to take it back for their own financial gain?
Sadly, McGuinty has taken a giant step toward perhaps returning the swineherd from the Harris years to Queen’s Park. A key villain of those years, Tim Hudak, is now the Tory leader. He’s accompanied by Harris’ former handler, Deb Hutton, who’s now Tim’s wife.
With typical Tory deceitfulness, Hudak is making an election issue out of McG’s stupid acceptance of Tory Jim Flaherty proposal for a blended sales tax called the HST. It helps big business fire some accounting clerks and whacks the hell out of the pocketbooks of ordinary people. Flaherty, of course, was a key figure in the Harris nightmare. HST is a Tory invention, just as the hated GST was a creation of the Rightly Despised Brian Mulroney. But to get elected, no big lie is too bizarre for neocons not to flog it.
And McG is busily flogging what could be his party’s election downfall: Jim Flaherty’s HST.