Kathleen Wynne’s Liberals won’t help Toronto where it really counts

It was a disheartening meeting that I had with a key member of Premier Kathleen Wynne’s government in the person of personable MPP Laura Albinese (York South-Weston)

I was part of a contingent from Newspapers Canada and the Ontario Community Newspapers Assn. (OCNA) participating in a face-on-face discussion with MPPs from all parties, mainly about our association’s concerns.

But since Albinese is also the parliamentary assistant to Wynne, she has an inside view of the government’s priorities and positions. I distilled three major Downtown Toronto concerns to also bring to the table:

1. The Ontario Municipal Board (see Stig Harvor’s column) is unelected, unaccountable and unbelievable in a big city that has no real power over its city planning and can be trumped by Big Money at the OMB.

2. Too many of the city’s police aren’t properly trained, are wrongly motivated and not adequately vetted.

3. The much-despised Mike Harris regime forced an amalgamation on Toronto that nobody here wanted, has resulted in our being ruled and overruled by yokels from the suburbs, was perpetuated by the recently resigned-in-disgrace ex-Premier Dalton McGuinty, and should be dismantled in short order to enable Toronto to resume its place as “New York run by the Swiss,” which was how famed actor Peter Ustinov once described our former almost-paradise municipality.

The image I got from one close to the premier is that the Liberals aren’t really liberal. They’re Tories, just like they were when McGuinty was passing out favours to developers. His campaign manager was a developer.

Albinese is quick-minded and quick-tongued with talking points. The province, she says, thanks to McGuinty’s 2005 City of Toronto Act, lets the city off the OMB hook and it only has to put the replacement facilities in place, which means the city is at fault. Glib, but untrue.

That’s why, as Harvor writes, MPP Rosario Marchese has launched a private-member’s bill to liberate  shamefully hand-cuffed Toronto planners from the OMB. Passing his bill is the least the Wynne government can do to help Toronto.

Regarding the Toronto police and their questionable vetting of personnel and insufficient training, Albinese didn’t seem concerned.

We all agree that only a minority of Toronto cops are bad apples, but there certainly are too many as exemplified by the outrages of Stephen Harper’s G20 grandstand in 2010. Nope. Nothing about that from the Liberals. Oh, there is something. Wynne thinks all cops should have deadly $500 Tasers on their hips if they so desire. Why depend on cheap and safer pepper spray and billy clubs? Liberal? It supports a multinational corporation, so consider it Tory. The Liberals nowadays are no different.

One of the concerns our newspaper industry groups had of the Wynne regime is a perpetuation of the McGuinty practise of cutting back community media advertising in favour of big business operations both foreign and domestic. Multinational-owned Google AdWords, for example, isn’t helping Canadian community media…or Canadian anything.

Recently the LCBO, which used to regularly publish notices of new licence applications in local community newspapers (though never in The Bulletin), decided to have citizens and residents visit the LCBO website to find out who’s applying for a licence in their neighbourhoods.

Surely they can’t really think most city residents are going to check the LCBO website frequently to see what outfits are proposing to put bars in their neighbourhoods. But it does save precious funds for, say, executive bonuses.

Which brings up a point I didn’t bother to present to the parliamentary assistant to our Tory-like premier and her Tory-like party.

What is the true purpose of bonuses to executives of outfits like Hydro and other provincial agencies and businesses? Does it really achieve excellence? Should any government at any level offer taxpayer-funded bonuses to employees?

C’mon! That’s just wrong on the face of it. For that matter, it’s wrong even for a publicly traded “private” corporation to do likewise. The bonus for executives should be that they get to keep their high-paying jobs, perks and executive washroom keys.

Any company that isn’t owned by one of the public’s governments or by publicly offered shares, can pay bonuses as it pleases.

But otherwise, that’s just wrong and contributes to the unjust and democracy-destroying misallocation of wealth to the very, very, very-entitled few.