Let me stop you there.
I know what you’re thinking. Premier Rob Ford? Really? You want that guy leading your province of Toronto?
Yes. Our municipal governance isn’t always pretty. It gets downright nutty at times. Pull your hair out insane.
But the thing is, it’s our municipal government. It’s right here. Very accessible. Very hands on, if one so chooses. We can directly wrestle with the beast.
Our relationship with the province is a little more distant, let’s call it, more removed. We are represented at Queen’s Park by one of 107 MPPs. That representation can be even further watered down if your particular MPP doesn’t sit as part of the government. Municipally, we have a crack at two of 45 of the decision makers. Those are much better odds of being heard and counted.
So decisions that get made at City Hall, even the ones you might not necessarily agree with, feel like our decisions, decisions we had a hand in. Provincially? Completely beyond our control.
Take this week’s Scarborough subway mess, for example.
Back a few months ago, in response to a letter from the provincial transit body, Metrolinx, asking if the Scarborough LRT was our final decision to replace the current RT, council stupidly re-opened the debate and voted for a subway instead. A very particular subway, running from Kennedy station to Sheppard Avenue, with all sorts of stipulations to it, but a subway nonetheless. And if the province could please respond by the end of September, that’d be great.
This past Wednesday, the provincial minister of transportation, Glen Murray, came back and said, hey wait, I got a better idea. A shorter subway, running along a different route than the one council approved and, in the process, knee capping a couple of the anti-LRT arguments that were made during the council debate. The only thing that mattered, however, was that the subway was located in Scarborough.
This subway plan might be even more dumb-assed, but again, for all sorts of non-transit related reasons, mostly revolving around political ambitions and pandering, I think it’s safe to say.
And if you think this is some sort of recent aberration, this profoundly political game of provincial interference, take a read through WorldWideWickens and the history of how we ended up with the much maligned Scarborough RT in the first place. Whose brilliant idea was that? Not the city of Toronto, as it turns out. For different political but still political reasons, the Scarborough RT was foisted upon us by the province.
Here we are, barely 30 years on, hashing the same thing out again.
Of course, Minister Murray’s subway announcement doesn’t finalize anything despite what he might think. Reading Ben Spurr’s article in NOW, one might conclude that Murray’s only succeeded in pouring gasoline on the embers, re-igniting the whole thing back up into a conflagration of red hot clusterfuck. He’s just sent the flaming bag of shit back to be debated at city council again this fall and managed to wipe his government’s hands clean of it.
If council regains its senses and demands adherence to the signed master agreement which designates an LRT for Scarborough, they will be the ones (at least the councillors voting in that direction) denying Scarborough its subway. You know Mayor Ford will seize that club to use on any possible opponent in next year’s municipal election. The province can throw up its hands and say, what are you going to do with these squabbling kids? We tried to give you a subway, Scarborough. They just wouldn’t listen.
The combination of both levels of government involved in our lives sometimes makes it feel like a 3-dimensional game of Battleship. Shit not only comes at you from the sides but from above and below as well. It’s this double-whammy that makes me think wistfully of being our own province. Halve the number of local representatives making dumb, self-serving decisions on our part. Let’s get rid of our MPPs and start making our very own dumb decisions.
At least we’ll only have ourselves to blame.
— independently submitted by Cityslikr