Designed Obsolescence

Put aside your bias for a moment, if you could, and I’ll try to put aside mine. Clear our heads of all preconceived notions of political matters here in Toronto. Let loose our spirits from partisanship.

Then, listen to Councillor Adam Vaughan talk density and city building yesterday with Matt Galloway on CBC’s Metro Morning. When you’re finished with that, check out Mayor Rob Ford a day earlier on his two hour Sunday radio show talking plastic bags (October 21st, part one, 1’35” mark.) Pause, reflect and consider the implications before asking yourself: Who would you rather have running this city?

Like I said, keep your politics at the door on this. Vehemently disagree or heartily agree with Councillor Vaughan all you want but admit that he’s talking about and understands substantive issues. His ward is at the epicenter of development in the city right now. Pressures of densification are intense. He is front and centre in the changing face of Toronto.

And Mayor Ford?

When not ordering city staff to spruce up the area around his family owned business, he’s busy, busy, busy visiting and revisiting the inadvertent plastic bag ban he instigated earlier this year.

A plastic bag ban, folks! The mayor of Toronto is determined to spend considerable political capital (and time) reversing a ban he already failed to have reversed. Almost halfway through his term, a weekly talk radio bully pulpit at his disposal and he spends even a fraction of the opportunity talking plastic bags? Why?

“It is essential that we have plastic bags,” Mayor Ford said on his show. “…they are very, very handy.”

Handy, sure, if what you’re really looking for is an easily digestible, yes/no, right/wrong binary issue that even a part time mayor can sum up in a bumper sticker slogan. When larger matters like more and better transit, an affordable housing shortage, city planning for the 21st-century are a little too cumbersome to get your head around, latch on to an inconsequential, divisive item and just don’t let go. Essential? You betcha. For re-election.

“We are doing great. We are doing what taxpayers elected me to do. We are straightening out the city.”

Is this really what Mayor Ford was elected to do? (It bears repeating that this plastic bag ban was entirely the mayor’s doing when he went off half-cocked at council trying to end the 5 cent – 6 cents if you include HST – plastic bag fee the city was demanding retailers charge their customers). Was he being literal when he said people were tired of being nickel and dimed to death and he’d put an end to it? One nickel – 6 cents if you include HST – at a time.

It was a flimsy if catchy campaign platform that successfully caught a wave of voter discontent in 2010. As a governing policy, however, it leaves a little to be desired. Is it really the best use of city time and resources to have our mayor running around filling potholes, rescuing kittens from trees, obsessing over a 5 cent – 6 cents if you include HST – plastic bag fee-turned-ban? Shouldn’t the mayor of city with some 2.5 million residents have more important things to do?

If your answer to that question is no, as a matter of fact, Mayor Ford is doing exactly what I voted for him to do, your expectations of the role municipal governments play in our lives is quite low. Access to regular and reliable public transit is essential. Plastic bags aren’t. Our aim should be a lot higher than the target Mayor Ford shoots for and his supporters cheer him on to do.

That’s called ‘reducing the role of government’ by example.

activistly submitted by Cityslikr

11 thoughts on “Designed Obsolescence

  1. bags, bags, bags. the people want plastic bags. they don’t want to be stuck behind those damn paper bags.

  2. What has happened to Toronto, Whos name means ‘meeting place’ in the Indian language, where great matters would be discussed and solved for centuries. Now Being side tracked and hobnailed by a discussion of plastic bags for groceries????? The plastic bag discussion is a non issue. Other countries have developed whole industries for creating cloth bags and leather bags and designer bags for putting grocceries in, taking the correct size cloth bag for the amount of groceries that will be bought, or paying an extra few cents for a palstic bag at the store by a swipe of the scanner. It is a non issue. Is all Torontos wisdom turning to foolishness. Is this just buying and selling until the flood came and washed them all away. If the Fords are meant to waste your time on purpose, and are really some kind of spies with the conservatives, and Harper who are planning some change in society, that we are not privy to, with our entire economic system disappearing with the swipe of a pen.Time to go to pentecostal church and pray.

  3. As articulate and forward-thinking Adam Vaughan is on city issues and city growth, he will need to distance himself from his Miller roots in order to win over the hearts and minds of the suburban voter.

  4. Byford is a joke that is why service has gotten more congested. HOW are you Fordites ever going to pay for a Scarborough subway? plus the route of the SRT would be impossible for a 6 car train to make the turn at Ellesmere.

    • The opening up of the Scarborough Subway issue was not by the Ford’s but by the new TTC committee filled with left leaning and mushy middle council members. Talk to Karen Stintz and Glenn De Baeremaeker

      • CEO; Byford who talks customer service wanted funding for the “relief subway” opening the door to study replacing the SRT with Subway. Stintz is right leaning. Glenn is a Liberal…

      • So why did they vote against it in the first place? De Baermaeker is trying to save his political career by talking Scarborough subway. The reason it is open, is there is no signed agreement between the province and the city.

      • They voted against the Sheppard(Scarborough) Subway because it was not funded by Ford’s Private Sector source!
        Glenn’s Ward 38 has the Scarborough Centre Hub that is congested.
        It could be(speculation) Byford is placating Ford by making the relief line a priority over Sheppard…
        The $8.4 billion Miller got is for LRT rather than Ford’s 20km of underground LRT.

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