So if there are Torontonians out there looking for reasons to vote Progressive Conservative in the next provincial election, I think outspoken Grey-Bruce-Owen Sound MPP Bill Murdoch just provided you one.
Hold on, I hear you saying. Why on earth would anyone in Toronto want to vote Progressive Conservative after the damage their gang of backwood thugs inflicted on the city the last time they were in power? They can’t buy a seat here exactly because of that.
No argument there. It’s just that Wild Bill Murdoch has said out loud an idea that most of us who live in the city only secretly and silently harbor. He thinks it’s time for Toronto to separate from the rest of Ontario and become its own province. As a Torontonian, I have to heartily agree with Murdoch which, in all likelihood, has been and will be the only time such a thing could ever happen.
“The province is run totally by the mentality that is coming out of Toronto. The government of the day can’t get anything done because they are overruled by Toronto,” Murdoch was quoted as saying. Really? You don’t say, Mr. Murdoch. Because from my perspective, deep down the 416 rabbit hole, that comes as complete news to me.
Now I don’t know how exactly power is wielded in political institutions like Queen’s Park. Maybe it’s not about the numbers. But a quick count of the 71 standing Liberal MPPs shows that 19 of them have a 416 area code in the constituency offices. That’s just under 27%. Of the 26 cabinet posts including the Premier who hails from the very non-Toronto riding of Ottawa South, 6 are Torontonians. That represents 23%.
Even if you try to argue that key ministries exert more influence than the actual numbers would warrant, there’s nothing of substance there either. In addition to the premier not being from Toronto, such heavy hitting portfolios like the Attorney General, Education, Finance, Labour, Enivornment and Health are all headed by MPPs who aren’t elected from Toronto. Even the Minster of Municipal Affairs and Housing – the de facto boss of cities – is from St. Catherines.
Not that I’m saying it should be any different. It’s just that I don’t know what the fuck it is that MPP Bill Murdoch is talking about. (I’m sure that’s not the first time someone’s said that, nor will it be the last.) By what standard or measure could Toronto be seen to be ‘overruling’ anything at Queen’s Park under the present government? Show me how that works, Mr. Murdoch.
There is one hitch, though. Murdoch wants to decouple the province only from area code 416 and take the 905 region with him. It makes political sense as 905 does tilt a little more Tory blue than its downtown cousins. While I’m sure there is a sizable chunk of 905ers who share Murdoch’s disdain of 416 and would happily wash their hands of the place, it’s tough to imagine everyone en masse cutting ties with Toronto. You think the good folks of Hamilton feel a greater affinity for Owen Sound or Nipissing than they do Toronto? How be immediate exburban places Markham or Pickering?
I don’t have the answers but it is a conversation I’d be very willing to have. So thanks for bringing it up, Grey-Bruce-Owen Sound MPP Bill Murdoch. And let me just say from the outset, it’s not you (yes it is). It’s me (no it isn’t). We’ve just grown apart. Far, far apart.
— ready to move on… edly by Cityslikr