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Making Toronto Work Again
05/09/2003

Both insidetoronto.ca and The National Post ran stories today debunking the likelihood of de-amalgamation for The City of Toronto.

The Inside Toronto article, by David Nickle, tells us what McGuinty's original comments were:

The idea of deamalgamating Toronto came up Wednesday, when McGuinty answered a question by a reporter on the election trail, that he'd be welcome to governance reforms for the megacity if they came up from the community.

"If the people of Toronto want to come forward and they develop a consensus with respect to how they'd like to remodel their system of local governance, I would be delighted to work with them to lend shape to that," McGuinty said.

However, both articles quote Deputy Mayor Case Ootes as against the idea. In the National Post:

Councillor Case Ootes, the current deputy mayor and an amalgamation supporter when he was a member of the defunct Metropolitan Toronto government, held a similar view.

"Demalgamation is simply not in the cards," he said yesterday. "It has no chance of becoming an issue in the [Oct. 2] provincial election.

"I think, most people recognize that amalgamation is here to stay," Mr. Ootes added. "It's been in place for six years and we have to make it work -- make it work better than it has. Attempting to de-amalgamate would be like trying to unscramble an omelette."

Now, I don't really know why what Case Ootes thinks really matters here. The new City of Toronto is not working nearly as well as the old. What we do to fix that -- if we're given the chance -- should be based on what will work best. The opinion of today's city councillors does not necessarily have this goal in mind. Especially those city councillors who were foolish enough to support amalgamation in the first place.

However, I don't think I support a complete de-amalgamation either. Indeed, there are some issues that are better handled by smaller, more-local representation. I think the best way to approach these issues is to empower the community councils to deal with them. Perhaps the community councils should even have their own specially-elected members, rather than the same over-worked, under-accessible megacity councillors.

Anyway, I'm not an expert and can't devise the best plan on my own. The good thing, however, is that with a new provincial government we will actually have the right to choose. Instead of having the provincial government dictate -- against our will -- how our city will work, the opposition seems commited to giving us democracy back.

Scarborough Centre Liberal candidate and current councillor Brad Duguid in Inside Toronto:

He said that McGuinty's message has nothing to do with deamalgamation -- but rather a new willingness on the part of the Liberals to listen to Torontonians when it comes to making decisions affecting their future.

"When the council of Toronto speaks to the province, we're going to listen," he said. "If they want to amend their system in some way -- whether to make a stronger mayor system or increase or decrease the number of councillors -- or somehow change the structure...

"We will never do what this current provincial government did which is go over the heads of 75 per cent of the people of Toronto and impose an amalgamation they didn't want."

Really, it's hard to believe that this is even an election issue. What kind of strange province do we live in where the government refuses to allow municipalities to organize in a manner that is popularly supported, less expensive, and more effective? It's Harris-Eves' Ontario!


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