Tuesday, December 13, 2011

What is it about Toronto, anyway?

Or Ontario? Or Canada?

Phil  Paine recently wrote an essay on the theme, "Nobody [today] is likely to laud Toronto as the exemplar of anything."
 I bumped into a business traveller, recently, from the Indian State of Andhra Pradesh.  After discussing Andhra, he asked me, perplexed, why the urban infrastructure in Toronto was so backward.  I could only be embarrassed.  How could I tell him that there were no Hubbards, Harrises, or Hastingses around, and if there were, they would never be permitted to do anything. 
 He concludes by pointing directly at Toronto's mayor.  And he's quite right to do so.  Except...

He actually won the election (though by making assertions and promises that he must have known were untrue).  No one claims that the vote was rigged.  Nor is he the first of his kind.

This short-circuits the obvious question, which is where do the creepy leaders we all too  often get stuck with come from? and replaces it with the question, where do the people who elect them come from?  Canada has  many virtues, some large, some small, but it also has within its collective soul a big lump of small-minded, uncharitable hatefulness.  Don't believe in a collective Canadian soul?  You may be right.  Then where do all the people come from who do not value the Canadian virtues that I so admire?  The people who, for a small instance,  use the comment section of Globe and Mail to unendingly complain that Pierre Trudeau wrecked the country?  I am not an admirer of Trudeau, actually, but this is ludicrous.  The whole nearly 40 years I've lived in this country, it's been wrecked?  What are the values held by such people?  What process produces them?

Anyway, Phil's essay reminds us that we can do better, and have.  Take a look.

Image:  No one would build this today.


  1. Toronto's made a virtue of not achieving anything in terms of infrastructure since they shut down the Spadina Expressway plan. Not to say that would have necessarily been a great achievement, but what has been accomplished in terms of infrastructure since, I ask you? Nooooothing!

  2. Most of the people who voted for Ford are not Torontonians! Because of the amalgamation the people voting for him were not people who lived IN Toronto but people in Scarborough, Missisauga, Vaughn, Willowdale,Etobicoke, etc... which are, of course, now "Toronto" at least as far as municipal government is concerned. Inside Toronto, the people who are likely to use the Library, for example, did not tend to vote for Ford. The tendency inside the city core was towards Smitherman as far as I can tell from the results. So the core is being punished with a mayor they did not elect.

  3. But that doesn't answer my question, which goes beyond Toronto.