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Enough Talk
12/04/2003
Yesterday, the Toronto City Summit Alliance released a 30-page report outlining their vision for Toronto. The Toronto Star today reports on the document, and summarizes it. I applaud this group of "civic leaders" for their efforts to help their city in its time of need. Whatever they accomplish, they can't help but raise the profile of this issue in the minds of our citizens, and this is important. Still, I continue to have my suspicions about what the Alliance will acheive. I've written about it before, and I am not alone. Today's Toronto Star article quotes John Nunziata, as a sole cynic among mayoral candidates:
"It represents an elite group of people; there aren't any ordinary people," Nunziata said. "There are a lot of prominent people, insiders, backrooms people. They have had a lot of opportunity to persuade government over the years, and they failed. "I find it curious they're being somewhat critical of the current situation when they're part of the status quo."
Now, Nunziata may well feel this way because rival John Tory was last year's co-chair. John Barber's column today is more to the point. In an open letter to former PC premier, and current TCSA member, Bill Davis, Barber questions whether or not the Alliance is ready to back its words up with any substance:
But let's be honest. None of the disasters your group wants fixed -- the lost promise of amalgamation, untamed urban sprawl, the crises of affordable housing, education and transit, et cetera -- just happened. They aren't just sad facts; they're policies. Toronto is not declining because its economy is faltering, as the mighty wind from your summit duly notes. To an extraordinary extent (which remains merely implicit within its pages), Toronto is declining as a direct result of the deliberate policies of the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario. ... These policies are not the result of clerical errors, nor do they represent opinions that can be changed by the earnest diplomacy of non-partisan summiteers. The Tories don't spend on affordable housing and social services because they don't believe in such things, and they have made their beliefs abundantly clear -- have impressed them into every brick in this city -- over the past eight years. What do you believe in -- your conscience or your party? I'm asking because it's not clear. The report is called Enough Talk and promises "an action plan for the Toronto region," but it dances around the only tool left with the power to change eight years of deliberately induced decline: our votes. So it's just more talk. Enough of that. I'm assuming you believe what you say. My question is this: Whom should we vote for? A nice straight answer would cut through the fog currently encircling your summit and deliver a message we can all understand.
And that about sums up the problem with the Toronto City Summit Alliance. The cause of the decline of the City of Toronto can be pinpointed without uncertainty. It's great that the TCSA is raising the awareness about the general problem, and it's nice that they are suggesting some mild solutions, but is this enough? In the face of outrageous mismanagement and outright exploitation, how about an appropriate response? How about a call to action? How about some anger? For whatever his motives, John Nunziata is right. The members of the Toronto City Summit Alliance are too entangled with the same establishment that looked the other way while the barbarians sacked this city. If change is going happen, it is going to be driven by the "ordinary people" Nunziata spoke of. And their tool is going to be the votes Barber mentions. Anything less, and Toronto will find itself in the same situation -- only worse -- four years from now.
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