Premier Dalton McGuinty is starting to get on my tits in a big way.
A week ago or so, the Globe and Mail reported that provincial government insiders were musing almost out loud that if the province were to get back into long term co-funding of the TTC in the way they used to in the olden days, there would be strings attached. More money equaled more control of and more say in the operations.
Then this week the premier decides to wade into the city’s election campaign, saying that there needs to be a debate about whether or not the TTC should be made an essential service and barred from striking. What’s that then, Dalton? Is there anything else you’d like us to do? How be you just tell us who to vote for? Fuck that. Why don’t you just install the new mayor and save us all that money, fuss and bother having an election.
We really, really need to reframe the terms of this relationship.
As it stands, the premier of Ontario acts like a disapproving father dealing with a profligate child. Finally forced to put his foot down, he is now insisting on putting his 2 cents in about how the kid spends his allowance and who he’s going to date. There, there, that’s a good boy now. Daddy knows best.
Someone needs to remind Dalton where the money that he is being so sanctimonious with comes from. Us. Here in the cities. PST soon to be HST. Provincial income tax. Etcetera, etcetera. It’s not actually his money to bestow upon us with instructions how to use it.
Or at least, it shouldn’t be. Only an outdated, 19th century constitutional glitch allows the premier of Ontario to pontificate upon and wield unworthy authority over powerless municipalities. It’s a sad state of affairs that is becoming more and more untenable and ultimately detrimental to the well being of cities. Drastic action needs to be seriously contemplated.
Who would’ve thought that here in 2010, we would be wistfully looking back to the enlightened leadership of Bill Davis?
— increasingly angrily submitted by Cityslikr
Hold on. We’re talking about the same Mayor that ran to the province to legislate an end to the TTC strike when his negotiatiors couldn’t get the job done? You act like a child, you get treated like a child some would say.
Or some might say, you treat somebody like a child, they will act like a child. It has been suggested by better minds than ours here at All Fired Up in the Big Smoke that the paternalistic dynamic at work in the relationship between the province and municipalities breeds a certain trait in some local pols that is averse to handling ultimate responsibility. Perhaps with more responsibility would come more responsible behaviour.
Does that describe our present mayor? His argument in going to the province for back-to-work legislation was that there was a split within the TTC union that undermined an agreement that was in place and reneged on a pledge to give 48 hours notice before going out on strike. Unsure who was actually negotiating for the union, the mayor felt he had no choice but to go to the province.
Does that undermine his authority and city council’s along with it? Yes, probably. And when he doesn’t ask the province to step in as he didn’t with last summer’s civic workers’ strike? It probably cost him his job. It just represents to us a culture of dependency that is not beneficial to the running of a big city.
Money doesn’t come from taxes, it comes from economic activity. Advocates of the new urbanism like to argue that cities pay more than their share of taxes, without noticing the plethora of policies, from cheap food to banking transportation and financial policies, which serve to concentrate wealth in cities, often into particular favoured cities. Those policies cloud, to say the least, the question of who generates the actual wealth of cities, and how.
The question of where the wealth comes from to pay taxes does not lend itself to an easy answer. It makes more sense to stop asking who pays, since we have long since ceased to have wealth qualifications for voters, and instead ask who has a legitimate stake in any given decision. Put that way, it makes sense to keep many decision making powers very local; the usage rules for local parks for example, should come from the community, not the city. Transit, on the other hand, belongs more and more to an integrated regional system, and the stake-holders in the transit system for the GTA increasing live outside the city of Toronto. That implies that Metrolinx, with its inevitable provincial involvement, will play a larger and larger role in the Toronto transit system.