5 years after the G20 fiasco in Toronto, we sit down and talk with reluctant police activist Sherry B. Good.
— audibly submitted by Cityslikr
I’ve been sitting here for most of the day, trying to write something, anything about the departure of Premier Dalton McGuinty. The writer’s block on the subject is telling. Formed from a mixture of rage and indifference, coherence is difficult.
Mostly, Dalton McGuinty is the reason I never voted Liberal provincially during his tenure. (Yes, I have been known to cast a ballot that way now and again.) To me he represented everything that was wrong with Liberals these days. As it was put in the Twittershpere, his “greatest achievement was finally putting a kind face to neoliberalism”.
From the outset, his whole approach seems to have been to operate slightly less right than the Progressive Conservatives. After 9 years in office, maybe it wasn’t merely playing politics. It’s possible to look back over his record and conclude that maybe Dalton McGuinty ruled only slightly less right than the Progressive Conservatives because he himself was only slightly less right than the Progressive Conservatives.
It certainly didn’t help Toronto much.
Despite his continued promise to undo the damage inflicted on this city by the Harris government, Premier McGuinty approached it without much sense of urgency. He re-uploaded services on his own timetable, according to his own state of finances. Rather than see the process as righting a previous government’s wrongs, it came across as doing the city a favour, tossing a few coins our way when we went to him, cap in hand.
The same could be said about his handling of transit.
He promised in 2003, and continued to promise throughout his time in office to resume paying the province’s 50-50 share of the TTC’s annual operating budget as well as the 75% for state of good repair capital expenses. He never did. He even stopped handing over the occasional chunk of money that made his government look magnanimous when it needed to. So the TTC languished during his reign as ridership increased, leaving the city property taxpayers having to foot more and more of the bill.
The McGuinty government played an even bigger game of politics with Transit City. Announced to great fanfare in 2007 as part of the province’s Big Move, $12 billion+ for 7 new LRT lines would be the biggest investment in transit the city had seen in decades. But then came the economic crisis and the province cut back to $8.4 billion and 4 lines thereby establishing that transit planning in Toronto remained politically negotiable and susceptible to whatever whim blew through.
We all know the recent history.
Now McGuinty exits, the future of Metrolinx’s Big Move unfunded and up in the air. He leaves the door open for the Opposition Leader Tim Hudak to openly muse about future reversals of plans. Nearly a decade of ambivalence gives way to another period of uncertainty.
And then there was this Liberal government’s role in the G20 debacle in June 2011. No one should be surprised at the Premier’s thumbing his nose at democracy with the craven prorogation of parliament on his way out the door, putting party before province. The Public Works Protection Act was a prorogation of our civil rights. Dalton McGuinty seemed comfortable in autocratic mode. Premier Dad, indeed.
Frankly, I’m not sure which is worse. The open contempt shown Toronto by the Harris government (and one sure to be emulated by Tim Hudak if he’s ever elected premier, based on his transit views and the behaviour of his municipal brethren, the Ford brothers) or the very, very conditional love shown by the McGuinty Liberals. We at least know where we stand when we’re hated. But with McGuinty? It was like being the mistress to a guy who’s never going to leave his wife, no matter what he says. We never knew when he was going to show up, and the roses and sparkling wine were just his way of currying favours.
The Tories abuse us. The Liberals use us. I guess this is what happens when you’re considered nothing more than a creature of the province.
— cuckoldly submitted by Cityslikr
Maybe it’s the heat that’s making me so ornery. Or maybe I’m no more ornery than usual but with all the sweaty and stickiness, I just feel ornerier. Or maybe, just maybe, quite possibly, it’s the ease with which all levels of politicians have been sniffing at and dismissing the basic tenets of a democratic society that has me so hot under the collar. No amount of A/C or electric fanning is bringing me relief.
Watching the debate at City Hall yesterday was disconcerting enough. Councillor Mark Grimes put forth a motion that would see council issue a big ol’ thank you to all the city workers, police and police chief who worked so diligently before, during and after the G20 summit. What it really amounted to, however, was nothing more than a purely partisan maneuver, designed to flush out all those police-hating, anarchist-loving lefties who, according to conventional wisdom, occupy a majority of the seats on council.
That a right wing politician would politicize this issue is entirely unsurprising. When you’re riding a wave of a bankrupt and discredited ideology, what else have you got outside of simply trying to make your opponents look as unprincipled as you are? Perhaps it should be equally predictable that if there were progressives and left wingers present in council chambers yesterday, none stood up to defend themselves or their beliefs. Because, let’s face it, true dyed-in-the-wool, small ‘l’ liberals have been ducking for cover for 30 years now, trying to put their best pro-free market, pro-authority faces on lest their patriotism or sanity be questioned. You’re either with us or you’re against us, remember?
So it was left to two retiring councillors, Michael Walker and Brian Ashton, neither of whom one would call progressive lions, to stand up and make very qualified peeps in defense of civil liberties, freedom of speech and due process. Both, of course, ended up voting in favour of the motion to thank everyone for a job well done. As did the mayor but not until after he take another opportunity to reveal his inner reactionary. Telling of how for the first time in his political career he needed a police escort to leave City Hall on Black (Bloc) Saturday, he essentially condoned the sentiment that if a politician is scared, civil rights are easily jettisoned. With that stated, the motion was passed unanimously. No dissent. Zero.
That, my friends, was simply a precursor to the real show of authoritarianism and autocratic thinking. According to the Toronto Star, Premier Dalton McGuinty actually said this in the face of some of his caucus concerned about their government’s involvement in the whole G20 mess: “Just remember, the same guy who gave us the Charter also gave us the War Measures Act.” I’m sorry. What did you just say? Are you equating the June 25-27 G20 protests in the streets of Toronto to the FLQ crisis? Really?!
Nevermind the mind-boggling lack of proportionality in that statement – the only kidnapping and murder committed at the G20 was of that very same Charter McGuinty mentioned and at the hands of politicians of every stripe – his comprehension of history goes beyond staggering. The War Measures Act was controversial and it cleaved a major rift in progressive circles which Trudeau never fully healed even after shepherding in the Charter some 12 years later. So raising its specter doesn’t really alleviate concerns about the role in revoking the rule of law the Premier played. Moreover, you’ve delivered us your War Measures Act, Dalton, show us your Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
More sinister still, however, during the same closed door session the Premier apparently uttered out loud this beauty: “Don’t forget about the silent majority.”
In all likelihood, McGuinty was merely alluding to polls that show a majority of people asked had no problem with how the police dealt with the situation at the G20 but was he oblivious to where that term originated or did he actually intend to align himself with the doings of former U.S. president Richard Nixon? This was a politician who used his perceived support among a majority of upright Americans (as opposed to the dirty hippies) to justify a secretive bombing campaign of a non-combatant country, the mowing down of 4 unarmed war protestors at Kent State and an increasingly elaborate and paranoid, not to mention entirely illegal, wiretapping operation to ferret out his enemies. This is how our premier wants to rationalize his actions?
It should be painfully obvious at this point that those who believe in the fundamentals of our Constitution and Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and all that underlying crap of living in a true democracy, have been abandoned en masse by their politicians. The choice between liberty and security has been made for us whether we like it or not. We no longer have elected representatives. They have become caretakers at best, overseers in times of distress and dissent.
It would be heart-stoppingly chilling if it wasn’t so fucking hot outside.
— hot and botheredly submitted by Cityslikr