Going Our Way?

April 5, 2012

While the cat’s away, we will take about something other than municipal politics today.

Gaze averted for the past year or so from the train wreck that has become the Ford administration, I’ve been keeping myself occupied with the goings-on at other levels of government. Not that there’s a whole lot more to commend from that view either. But at least it lends one a different perspective.

Which is (Segue alert! Segue alert!) what this country is slowly, incrementally facing, a changing perspective. The Albertazation of Canada, let’s call it where the government is the problem not the solution, taxation is a dirty word and all economic problems can be solved by digging into the ground below your feed and mining the resources.

Or as Erna Paris wrote in a Walrus article from March of 2011, “The New Solitudes”: … an outlook more familiar to Americans than to Canadians, at least since the Reagan revolution of the 1980s. Its organizing principles are a powerful commitment to individualism, and to maximum freedom in every sector. Governments should be small, their powers limited, their taxing capacity curtailed. The market must be free and unfettered. Individuals are uniquely responsible for their failures, as well as their successes, and they cannot expect assistance from the ‘nanny state.’

A twist on an old theme, the two solitudes revisited. No longer English and French with its healthy dose of disregard for those here before any European set foot on these shores. But a new division, grounded in western alienation that may be less geographic than it is philosophical. It’s not that Alberta ever wanted in. They wanted the rest of Canada to be more like them.

Or maybe it’s nothing more than sour grapes written from the heart of what was once the economic engine of the nation. The tables have turned. Power has shifted. Money talks, baby, and these days it’s the west with the deep pockets, Canada’s sugar daddies. The new payer of the piper gets a different tune played. If you want to keep dancing, you better learn the new steps.

Not so fast there, bucko. There’s nothing radical going on here. It’s simply business as usual. What we’re witnessing from this long feared stable Conservative majority government is little more than a slightly bluer tinged Chrétienism.

Take last week’s federal budget for example. Nothing out of the ordinary, no draconian hidden agenda. The new normal. Nothing to see here, folks. Everybody back to work.

You see what just happened there?

It is now taken as a simple matter of fact, plain as the nose on your face that government deficits and debt are due to excessive spending. On bailouts and stimulus spending during the global economic crisis. On pensions and other outrageous luxuries afforded to those not willing to do an honest day’s work in the private sector. We are all now true believers in the Rob Ford maxim that governments have a spending not a revenue problem despite all evidence to the contrary here in Toronto.

Buying into that mantra, Dalton McGuinty’s Liberal government in Ontario instructs Don Drummond not to even consider new taxes as a way of helping to alleviate the provincial deficit. This is a spending problem, remember? Tell us how to spend less not how to generate more revenue.

The flip side of this leap of faith, this embrace of the Alberta way, is that low taxes, cutting taxes creates a robust economy. It’s that simple, people. Although the Ontario government in its recent budget put off further corporate tax cuts, it was seen as a concession, a sop to keep the NDP happy rather than an admission that having slashed the rate over the last few years has generated little economic benefits to anyone but those businesses now paying less tax.

Lower personal income tax rates and the reduction of the GST at the federal level have also proven to deliver somewhat illusory economic benefits. Yet there’s nary a mention of that in much of the budget coverage. Little analysis to challenge the prevailing orthodoxy blowing in from the prairies. Taxes are bad, evil even to some minds. End stop.

No, the only way to turn this ship around, to build a sustainable economy, is to dig our way out. Addition by extraction. Ontario? Quebec? Stop expecting handouts from the rest of the country and get mining. There’s gold (of something else valuable) in them thar hills. Drill, baby, drill!

You see, according to the Alberta way, green may be good in theory but terrible in practice. Where’s the money to be made in wind, solar? Ontario’s very tentative baby steps in that direction have proven to be a bust to those inclined to view alternative energy with scepticism. Nothing more than a vain hope in the eyes of the Globe and Mail’s John Ibbitson.

Never mind what’s been going on over there in Germany, say. That country propping up the European economy at the moment. Its embrace of solar and wind power has helped turn around moribund manufacturing areas in the former east bloc parts of the country. In just 12 years, green energy went from contributing 6.3% of the country’s energy output to now over 20%, creating over 300,000 jobs in the process.

Hmmm, revive a flagging manufacturing base. Reduce dependence on unsustainable fossil fuel sources. Seems like a win-win strategy to those not wedded to the Alberta way.

Unfortunately, there’s little boldness in leadership in that direction currently. Politicians of all stripes have accepted the handcuffs of fiscal restraint to dampen expectations of new ideas and nip any discussion of charting a new course in the bud. Hewers of wood and drawers of water we once were. Hewers of wood and drawers of water we shall continue to be.

Those of us demanding something different are now another solitude, looking forward rather than backward. With a majority federal government intent on reshaping the country and its institutions bit by bit into a decentralized, corporate-minded, neoconservative plaything, we may have to take the prime minister up on his offer to seize more regional autonomy and assume control of our future. A future divergent with the Alberta way. That, to borrow Erna Paris’s title, is our new solitude.

sneakily submitted by Urban Sophisticat


Unreason To Believe

May 5, 2011

We’re trying a new approach here in an attempt to fall in line with a wider swath of our fellow electorate. Clearly we are out of step. So very, very out of step.

Our goal is to stop over-analyzing things. Maybe stop analyzing everything altogether. It only leads to despondency and heavy drinking. Let’s just start pretending to take what our politicians tell us at face value. We know they’re all lying to us, so let’s go with the lies we find most agreeable and beneficial to us. That way, when they fail to deliver, it justifies our anger and disillusionment with the entire system. The politicians are the problem not us.

Cut taxes without cutting services? We like it. Stability and non-accountability above compromise and cooperation? Hells yeah! Putting a majority government in place enables us not to have to think about federal politics again for another 4 years or so. That’s what politics is all about, isn’t it? Divesting ourselves of any and all responsibility.

We’ll also try our best to pay attention to what politicians who pander to our worst instincts have to say about their opponents and we’ll poo-poo what these duly smeared politicians say about any sort of ‘hidden agenda’. That’s just conspiracy minded, we’ll tell them. Besides, what do you know? You once lived outside of the country, didn’t you? Let’s set aside policy and platforms for personality. I’m only going to vote for someone I’d like to have a beer with. It’s a whole lot easier that way.

So we’re going to begin by sharing the joy our mayor and his brother have expressed with the outcome of Monday’s federal election. Finally. After nearly 25 years in exile, we have Conservatives MPs in 416 Toronto. The Liberal Fortress GTA has been breached and this can only mean good things for the city and region.

After years of being neglected and taken for granted by successive Liberal governments in Ottawa, left to our own devices to build transit, affordable housing and upgrade infrastructure, we have elected a party that will listen to our needs and set those things right. It’s true. Technically speaking, the Conservatives have been in power for 5 years now and haven’t really ever talked about any of that except for stimulus spending that the dreaded near-coalition forced them into when the world’s economy was heading off the cliff in 2008.

But you see, their hands were tied in a minority situation. Now freed from those merciless bonds, not with a little help from Toronto and the GTA, they can finally be themselves which, I think, if you didn’t look too closely at how they’ve operated as a government, could be seen as magnanimous. Caring, accommodating, law-abiding and magnanimous.

And since our mayor and his brain trust helped push them over the top, we should expect a little payback in return. Only Liberals ignore those who vote for them. While Conservatives focus mostly on their enemies, they do know who their friends are and reward them accordingly.

What from the mayor’s wish list should we look to be granted first? And by ‘wish list’, I mean not an actual list of priorities that Mayor Ford set down early on in the campaign for the federal politicians to agree or disagree with. That would be getting involved, politically speaking. The mayor didn’t want to get involved. At least, until he publicly endorsed the Conservatives and started sending out robo-calls to voters in various 416 ridings. But now that he’s rolled the dice and come up 7s, what would he wish for if he had any wishes?

There’s money for subways through P3s. So the mayor can finally administer the death blow to Transit City. Check that one off the list. Then there’s… there’s…

For this to work, we’re going to have to ignore the fact that all throughout last year’s municipal campaign, then candidate Rob Ford told us that the city didn’t have a revenue problem. It was all about over-spending and profligate waste. So it makes it a little awkward to go to the federal government now, cap in hand as the mayor referred to it when someone else was doing it, and ask for money that the mayor claims we don’t need.

The difference is, we’re coming at this from a position of strength now. Not only did we help give the Conservatives a majority government, so they owe us, but we don’t really need the money in the first place. If we did, the mayor and his people at City Hall wouldn’t have cut and frozen taxes. So let’s look at it more as a Demand rather than Wish List. We are in the driver’s seat. All it took was electing government MPs. Conservative government MPs. Conservative majority government MPs.

Who knew life could be this simple and easy? Aside from the 40% of voters who cast Conservative ballots on Monday. They’re clearly on to something. Set aside reason and logic and things become very clear, very straight-forward. It’s what we’re all looking for in the long run, isn’t it?

new me-ly submitted by Cityslikr


A Bitter Victory

May 3, 2011

He was not answering his phone. Rain or shine, day or night, while sitting on the toilet conducting his daily constitutional, he answered his phone. So this was unusual.

It’s not like the evening had been a total failure. Yes, Stephen Harper’s Conservatives seized the majority that had hung so tantalizingly close before their eyes just out of reach for the past 5 years. If you have any attachment to the notion of the positive role government plays in our lives, no good can come from last night’s results.

And being what my friend Donald calls an ‘unreconstructed Pierre Trudeau Liberal’, the party of my youth is not even the official opposition any longer. It is just officially in tatters. No one’s going to be talking about the ‘Liberal brand’ anymore without giggling mournfully.

Yet the NDP had scaled historic heights. A second place finish seemed to be merely empty boasting as recently as two weeks ago. By the end of last evening, however, the NDP were les rois du Quebec, nearly obliterating the Bloc in one fell swoop. For that, federalists of whatever stripe should be grateful. The party also managed to hold seats elsewhere and mounted their own assault on Fortress Liberal in downtown Toronto, taking out a few Liberal incumbents in the process.

So for that alone, I expected at least a modicum of ebullience from my colleague, the NDPisty of all of us. But he wouldn’t even pick up his phone. From past experience, I knew this to be a bad sign.

When I arrived at the office, the door was slightly ajar. I knocked. No answer. Popping my head into the darkened room except for the glow coming of the computer screen, I spotted the silhouette of Cityslikr, sitting at the desk. With a “yoo-hoo!” I made my presence known but still received no response. My rational side told me he was just lost in deep thought but part of me wondered, well, I’d seen too many movies with scenes just like this. A corpse still sitting upright, waiting to fall over at the slightest touch. It wasn’t like the man didn’t have a short list of people who’d vowed to kill him at some point of time or other.

I slowly but noisily approached him, still eliciting no reaction. The first thing I noticed was the half full (yes, I remain the optimist even in the darkest of times) bottle of Woodford Reserve. OK. So maybe he’d drunk himself into a joyful stupor. I mean, the Orange Wave had taken 100 seats after all. Conservative majority be damned. It was still an impressive feat.

Then I spotted the opened pill bottle. Picking it up from the desk with still no acknowledgement from Cityslikr, I checked out the label. Lorazepam. Oh oh. I leaned in for a closer look. His eyes were open but just staring ahead at the computer screen. Giving him a gentle nudge, I asked how many of the pills he’d had.

It wasn’t clear if he’d heard me as the question seemed to make no impression. The only sign of life Cityslikr exhibited was the slow blinking of his eyes, randomly and not always in unision. I began wondering if a call to 9-1-1 might not be in order. And then he spoke.

“Not nearly enough,” he said. “I was thinking of trying to sleep for the next 4 and a half years.” He continued to look at the computer screen. I followed his glance to see what, if anything, had so focused his attention. Sentences blinked on the screen in front of him.

In the end, we send our words and ideas into the void, Mafingo.

(Mafingo?)

 Into the fucking void to die a neglected death. Nothing to be done. Nothing to be done.

Yep. Our fearless leader had slipped into the dark recesses of a Beckettian induced coma. Clearly this was not the time for upbeat words and thoughts. He was nowhere near ready for that. Now we simply mourn. And how better to do that than a slug of some silky smooth bourbon to wash down the warm, pillowy embrace of a benzodiazepine? Warning: Do not drink alcohol while taking benzodiazepine. This medication can increase the effects of alcohol. Exactly.You know, it’s not the majority government that’s so hard to swallow although, it is a big, big, bitter, bitter pill for sure. Nor is it the collapse of Liberal support that’s dismaying. While much will be made of the vote splitting that gave the Conservatives many unintentional seats especially in Toronto and the GTA, I curiously await the numbers to see how many of those were caused by natural occurring left of centre, NDP-Liberal splits and those caused by rightist Liberals jumping aboard the good ship Conservative to try and stem the Orange Wave. Perhaps Liberals needed to purge their party of those types anyway. It’s just an ugly way to do it for the rest of us.

No, for me the really disheartening aspect of Monday’s election is the total lack of imagination and nerve on the part of voters who cast their ballot with the Conservatives out of fear and desire for stability. They bought into the dubious notion that parliamentary democracies can only function properly with one party in a majority position to make all the decisions. Here you go. Do your worst. And we’ll tune in again in 4 years time, see how you’re doing.

We had a golden opportunity by electing a third straight minority government (in whatever makeup) to truly change the political landscape of this country. To make it known to all the parties that this is what we wanted. We wanted compromise. We wanted consensus. So instead of working to undermine a minority parliament, all parties would have to properly deal with that new reality and perhaps put their own interests aside for those of the country.

Instead, we rewarded those who did everything in their power to discredit the idea of a workable minority government with unfettered access to the levers of federal power. Actually, fewer than two in five voters rewarded the Conservatives for their parliamentary treachery, somehow feeling that they’ve restored the natural order of things where one party garnering less than 40% of the popular vote gets to play with all the marbles. A skewed stability that disenfranchises 60% of the electorate. But no matter. We won’t have to bother to vote again for over 4 years!

This type of Conservative victory has set back voting reform at the federal level for another 5 years at least. Why would a majority government want to reform a system that benefited them greatly? While seat numbers weren’t far off their popular vote, the NDP may be likewise loathe to bring up the subject with the majority of their seats now in Quebec, a province that could see their political influence dwindle somewhat under a more proportionally representative system. Only the Liberals and the Green Party are left to carry that banner but their impact on the next parliament will be minimal.

In its place, the talk will be of uniting the centre left at least between the NDP and Liberals, and disfiguring our political landscape even further into an entirely contrived two party, left v. right, scenario. It’s just simpler that way, I guess. Because if there’s one take away lesson from the election campaign this time around it’s that voters are uncomfortable with complexity. It’s too difficult to follow and takes up too much of their time. Politics, as in any game, needs a clear-cut winner and a bunch of losers.I won’t always feel this way. Nor will my colleague, Cityslikr. We will bounce back. But for a few days anyway we seek to dull the pain of our ever growing misanthropy in a pleasant, totally legal, narcotic haze, telling our woes to our new best friend, Mafingo.

ativanly submitted by Urban Sophisticat


Democracy Only Happens Every 4 Years

March 14, 2011

What’s the right wing’s beef with democracy?

They win an election and think debate and opposition ends there. Witness the assault on parliamentary practice by the Conservatives in Ottawa since 2006. A dubious use of prorogation or two, an utterly absurd denigration of the concept of a coalition in a minority situation, all under the tight rein of a highly centralized, secretive and paranoid PMO that, if it had a human face, would be Frank Burns of M*A*S*H fame.

Here too in Toronto, right wingers newly installed into power have shown contempt for all those who dare stand, opposed. The attitude is most on exhibit if you can muster the courage to fight through one Sue-Ann Levy’s Toronto Sun screeds. (The Ford administration’s court jester and loyal stenographer screeds in person too, as I witnessed at last Wednesday night’s special city council meeting.) To Ms. Levy’s mind, such as it is, those displeased with the moves the mayor is making are “gravy train-enabling, public teat-sucking, union-loving…”, “shilling” for this or that, “leftist hangers-on and despicable leftist hypocrites”, the lot of them.

No, no. They couldn’t be principled, honorable or at all justifiably concerned in their disagreement with Mayor Ford. Merely self-interested fat cats, only in it for themselves unlike the mayor who is just looking out for the little guy. In fact, why can’t they simply be quiet and let Robbie straighten this city out? That would be the selfless thing to do. Why do we even have to waste all this time with debates? City council should be run more like a business, as Sue-Ann scribbles down the thoughts of the mayor’s brother, Councillor Doug, himself no big fan of anyone with the temerity to challenge his views. When the gallery failed to fawn over his common guy schtick at Wednesday night’s meeting, he called them ‘whiners’. “It’s a three-ring circus,” he said of the council meetings to date. “We debate five or six hours when we all know the end result.”

When we all know the end result…

It’s as if they, having won the election last October, think everyone should just roll over and go back to sleep until 2014. Resistance is now not only futile but bordering on anarchy. Maybe in this mayor’s case that kind of thinking makes perfect sense. He spent his decade as a councillor out on the political fringes. Now it’s their turn. And by ‘their’, the mayor means anyone who doesn’t fall into line behind him.

While this winner-take-all view of democracy has, much to its detriment, historical traction in a parliamentary system, city hall doesn’t work like that. The mayor is one vote of forty-five and on every issue that comes before council to be voted on, he must marshal 22 others if he wants to pass a motion. So no end result can be taken as a given. Yes of course there is a lot of backroom (and not so backroom) arm twisting that goes into securing support but debate just comes with the territory. As do the crowds in council chambers when important matters surface that stir the public’s emotions. Diminishing them or the manner in which bylaws are brought into being reveals a disturbing anti-democratic sensibility.

During the TCHC debate on Wednesday night, Councillor Ford estimated that there were about 300, 400 tenants in the gallery. To him that meant there were still nearly 160,000 tenants who supported what they wanted to do with the board. Absence equals support. At two different heated debates this year, the mayor claimed that of all the feedback he’d received, 99% were supportive. 99%, really? You see? Not only are they with us. God too must be on our side. So get with the program and stop your whining.

The more forceful the attempts at diminishing opponents with personal invective, the less likely your argument will stand up in the sunlight of reason. Quote all the questionable polls you want, Sue-Ann Levy, but let’s see some of that support with boots on the ground. Give me just a tiny show of that 99% of the city that’s behind you, Mr. Mayor. Where are all those folks, coming out to council meetings, exhorting the mayor and his followers to stay strong and persevere? And if you even reflexively were about to say, we’ve got jobs, no, what you’ve got is the rhetorical skills of a child. You might’ve just as well said, ‘No, you shut up’ which is, essentially, exactly what Mayor Ford is telling those who disagree with him. No, you shut up.

I attended the budget deputations back in January up in North York, in the thick of the Ford Nation. If memory serves, of the 48 or so folks who I witnessed get up to speak, 3 were in favour of the budget draft the mayor was floating. That’s 1 in 16 or about 6%. A far cry from the 99% Mayor Ford likes to cite as being on his side. Where are they all? Sitting at home, firing off angry letters to the editor or online comments, while watching Celebrity Apprentice? Why don’t they think they have to do anything to actively support their views aside from vote every 4 years? Are reactionaries just lazy?

Or is it because their guy’s in power now? He’s already doing their bidding, so they can just sit back, relax and spend time figuring how to spend that $60 that came in the mail for the VRT rebate? If you feel the need to go out and protest in public or advocate for a cause, it’s just proof positive that your side has already lost. That’s basic, zero sum, modern politics, buddy. Deal with it.

slothily submitted by Cityslikr


His Honour’s Sour Grapes

December 8, 2010

So the Mayor Rob Ford era has officially begun, and for all those who picked ‘Decorously’ or ‘Graciously’ in the How Will Rob Ford Respond To Having The Chain Of Office Hung Around His Neck office pool, pay up, motherfuckers.

The mayor used the solemn occasion of his investiture to invite one of his heroes, noted Mississaugan urbanist and sartorial flamboyer, Don Cherry, to chain him and kick off the proceedings. Mr. Cherry, in turn, used his invite, as writer Jonathan Goldsbie noted, as “…mostly just an attack on the Globe’s TV critic.” John Doyle, that is, and his article in yesterday’s Globe and Mail. The mayor then followed with an utterly uninspiring speech, full of references to taxpayers and customer service, more befitting (as we have noted numerous times previously) a Walmart manager’s pep talk to his employees just before the grand opening than a new mayor addressing the inaugural council meeting of the country’s largest city. Then some quick business was done like voting in the mayor’s all-male, all-right wing executive committee before the gavel came down to adjourn the proceedings until the real fireworks being tomorrow.

We’re now through the looking-glass here, people. Our new mayor, well-to-do through an inherited family business, speaks for ‘the little guy’. Mr. Cherry, a well-to-do sports commentator, lashes out and ‘artsy, left wing kooks’ and thinks “It’s time for some lunch pail, blue-collar people.” All pronounced while wearing an embroidered pink blazer that would make a geisha blush and his dapper Tom Wolfe high collar. Both men preach the neo-conservative gospel of small government (except for police and military, natch), and both have done alright for themselves, pocketing their fair share of government largesse.

And somehow, pinkos are the bad guys. We left leaning, bike riding, oh-so-privileged, downtown elites, bereft of the common touch and without our finger on the pulse of real Torontonians. We don’t understand the plight of the working people. The mayor does because he employs 350 of them in Toronto, New Jersey and Chicago. Don Cherry talks to millions of them directly through the camera, for a whole 8 minutes every Saturday night. Regular Joes, the two of them. Full fledged members of the lumpen proletariat, they is.

You know what? I say, fuck that. Much discussion has gone on since the new mayor’s been sworn in about how those standing in opposition to him should react. Take the high road. Don’t take the bait. Take a pill and chill-ax. The world’s not coming to an end because the likes of Don Cherry brought his schtick live to City Hall chambers.

All true but we’ve seen this movie before and it never, ever turns out well.

Every time a right wing populist is elected, they claim a ‘mandate’ (sometimes even from as on high as heaven itself) and immediately take the offensive, declaring a state of unilateralism. It’s My Way Or The Highway. You’re Either With Us Or A’gin Us. All Hail And Bow Down Before Me, Minions.

We’ve watched it for the past 4 years or so in Ottawa. A minority (A Minority!) Conservative government has browbeaten the opposition into simpering obsequiousness, giving way on almost every important issue that has emerged. Even the stands they’ve managed to take like on the long gun registry have tied them into paroxysms of soul-wrenching angst, leaving them to look defeated in the face of victory.

It’s a tactical strike adopted from right wingers in the States. George W. pulled it off masterfully throughout his term in office. The Tea Party led Republican congress is following suit. Not even sworn in yet and they have a Democratic President turning on his base. To seek bipartisanship where none is on offer doesn’t make you look evenhanded, open-minded or apolitically above the fray. It makes you look weak, unprincipled and unfit to hold public office.

Now comes Rob Ford who has not made one conciliatory gesture to his opponents since being elect mayor. His executive committee is exclusively right-wing, inner suburban (or from wards that Ford won) and male. He’s been blowing smoke about his power to end Transit City, going as far to say that council never voted about Transit City (it did), so it doesn’t have to be consulted to terminate it. The voters gave him a mandate, you see. Normal democratic principles no longer apply.

Bringing in Don Cherry to introduce him was just another aggressively defiant gesture by Ford. To all those who disdainfully dismiss the outrage that greeted Grapes’ council speech as unimportant, much ado about nothing, an overblown sticks and stones scenario, not worth the media attention, well, you’re diminishing the symbolism of it. “You never know what he’s going to say,” shrugged our mayor about Cherry’s speech. Not the exact words maybe but the intent was going to surprise no one. It was a big ol’ fuck you to anyone and everyone who doesn’t think exactly like the mayor and Don Cherry, pinkos or not.

Imagine if David Miller, re-elected with a larger percentage of the popular vote for his 2nd term, had proclaimed a ‘mandate’ and brought in, say, Naomi Klein to introduce him. She proceeds to say something to the effect of: Eat it, corporate right wing shills. Not political? Unimportant and beside the point? I don’t think so.

Mayor Rob Ford has come out of the gate with no intention of making nice, seeking compromise or trying to find the middle ground with his opponents. Why is the onus on them to reach out? It’s not obstructionist to stand up for your principles and beliefs. It’s called democracy. In a democracy, winning an election is just the 1st step. It doesn’t mean you get to do whatever you want and everyone else has to go along, no matter how much right wingers would like to believe that.

helpfully submitted by Cityslikr


A Crisis Not Of Our Making

February 16, 2010

Earlier this year city of Toronto officials announced that if more child-care money wasn’t forthcoming from senior levels of government the city would have to close some 5 000 subsidized spaces over the next two years. As the budget process kicks into high gear this month, we will be hearing a lot of such talk: monetary shortfalls and program/service cuts. That will be followed by the inevitable calls for restraint and the getting of the fiscal house in order, especially with it being an election year.

I think it a good opportunity, however, to point out the way in which this exemplifies the off-kilter political dynamic at work and how municipalities as the street level, day-to-day providers of such things like day-care work at a disadvantage while facing the brunt of the public’s displeasure with decisions that are not, ultimately, made at a local level.

Upon coming to power four years ago, the federal Conservatives led by Stephen Harper rolled back the five billion dollar national child-care plan that the previous Liberal government had proposed, and replaced it with a more modest, shall we say, approach. Part of this new day-care tack on the Conservative government’s part was a one time grant to the provinces, totaling just over $250 million for Ontario. In turn, the Ontario government split that amount into four $63.5 million annual payments to municipalities; payments that run out on April 1st. Already the provincial government has had to pay out an additional $18 million to avoid disruptions during the current school term.

The second key decision in the equation was last fall’s announcement by Queen’s Park that it was going to fund full time kindergarden for the province’s 4 and 5 year-olds. In and of itself, this plan would seem to be unrelated to the day-care cash crunch. However, the removal of older children from day-care, in fact, makes day-care services more expensive because older children, in needing less hands-on attention, are less costly units. In their absence, it will require more money to provide and run day-care centres, therefore making day-care more expensive.

So, what you have is a day-care crisis in the making precipitated by decisions made by the two levels of senior government who do not provide the services. This is your asymmetrical, inverted democracy at work. Individual Canadians, 80% of whom live in urban municipalities, hand over the majority of their taxes to senior levels of government in the form of income and sales taxes. These levels of government then divvy up their expenditures based on whim and political necessity which, oftentimes, are diametrically opposed to the needs of individual Canadians.

This structure represents the height of inefficient governance and lies at the root of much of our municipalities’ money woes. Too much of our taxes go to where it is least needed and is doled out in an ad hoc, politically motivated manner. Yet, it is a situation that largely goes unremarked upon during the course of election campaigns. Rather than pointing fingers at each other, screaming waste, fat, inefficiency, municipal candidates should be aiming their fire at those who are truly responsible up on Parliament Hill in Ottawa and in the country’s provincial legislatures.

Thank you for reading.

submitted by Acaphlegmic