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Toronto - Ontario - Canada
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15/01/2004

I'm working on something that reminded me about one of my first pieces of public political writing.

Back in 1998, the Tories were forcing a new funding formula onto the schools and there was talk of the need to close over 100 schools in Toronto. I was pretty annoyed, and wrote a letter to the editor of the Globe and Mail. I lost my copy of the newspaper, but today I went to the library to track it down. Here it is:

November 5, 1998

It's little wonder that the Toronto District School Board is facing the closing of so many schools when the Harris government has apparently embarked on a strategy of looting the city's wealth to pay for a 30-per-cent tax break.

Toronto, as a large city, has inherent advantages and disadvantages. The advantages include a healthy property- and income-tax base. The disadvantages include more expensive schools (due to higher concentration of special needs here) and higher social costs (since the city is a magnet for those from around the province and around the world who are down on their luck).

Left alone, Toronto's fiscal advantages would probably outweigh these negatives. Unfortunately, we have a provincial government that has decided to redistribute the city's advantages to other communities across the province, while leaving Toronto holding the bag for its disadvantages. Coincidentally (or not), those that have fared best as a result of this reoganization happen to be in areas of the province that voted heavily for the Conservative government.

As much as the left in Toronto compains about "neoconservatives", we would be much better off if Mike Harris really were such a thing.

Megacity megagovernments, giant unpopular restructurings, ignoring referendums and taking from one community to subsidize the one that voted for you -- these are not neoconservative ideas. They're just old-fashioned politics.

Re-reading this now I realize that a lot of the writing on my blog has just been reformulation of this idea, with updates on the situation. Maybe I would have been a lot more efficient if I just posted this letter. Might have saved me about 100 postings.

Unfortunately, not a whole lot has changed.


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