The net worth of the richest 1% (including 101 billionaires and a million millionaires) is greater than that of the bottom 90%
The Washington Post, July 7,1992
Since Mike Harris's Progressive Conservative Common Sense Revolution party formed the government in 1995, Ontarions have been learning what conservatism looks like in professional hands. Recent lessons include the provincial government's claim that municipalities are rife with inefficiency, duplicated infrastructure and other redundancies. This waste of tax dollars should be going to service the public deficit.
The solution was to drastically reduce the number of municipalities, school and hospital boards, give municipalities additional 'local responsibilities' and keep closer watch on their antics.
These arguments have not been universally applauded. Organizations and demonstrations have been voicing opposition all across Ontario ... a notable example being former Toronto mayor John Sewell's Citizens For Local Democracy.
Little use has been made, however, of an argument refuting the province's premise. Municipalities do not constitute a third level of government. Instead, municipalities are corporations created and abolished by the provincial government While they are allowed to exist, municipalities operate within the exhaustive constraints and sanctions contained in The Municipal Act. In other words, municipalities are appendages of the provincial government.
Thus, when provincial governments chastise municipalities for waste or duplication, we have a government condemning its own conduct, but doing so in hypocritical fashion, hoping that voters will not see through the ruse.
This means that saving money was not the agenda driving municipal amalgamations, the elimination of school boards and downloading of further costs to municipal ratepayers. The province could have done what it has often done before - adjust or cancel grants to municipalities. The eminently 'democratic solution' would have been to let 'local politicians' petition Queen's Park to amalgamate if they thought savings would result. Alternatively, they could have cut back levels of services or imposed user pay protocols.
Instead, the Harris government redesigned the political landscape to minimize grass-roots meddling. This is chicanery of the highest order. Municipalities cannot be restructured or amalgamated because they are phantoms conjured into existence to distract voters from the antics of provincial governments.
If Ontarions had been asked whether they wished to further diminish municipal/provincial dialogue, they would certainly have repudiated the notion.
In the end, only one question is relevant: Why have municipal councils not repudiated this hypocrisy and doublespeak?
An analogy may be useful: think of Ontarions as a flock of chickens, sorted into 700 or so municipal pens. These flocks pass their days clucking over nearby events and laying valuable eggs. Many of these eggs have been vanishing into the 'Big House' known as Queen's Park. Not every egg is harvested of course. Some are secreted away, some even hatch local initiatives and community well-being.
These successes have been occurring in spite of the best efforts of the denizens at Queen's Park. They have been coming by regularly by to throw some scratch on the ground, and make off with as many eggs as possible while the feathers are flying.
Even so they have not been finding all of the eggs. This is why they think having so many pens are counter-productive. Having even two pens means twice as many opportunities to hide eggs, two pecking orders, two cocks of the walk ....
All of this is too tiresome for words. The number of pens must be reduced!
So what happened when the Ontario Farmer started taking down the barriers between Ontario's coops? Did local roosters fly in his face? No, they flew in the face of reason. Do local roosters Marshall their hens into da sit-down strike? No, they convened a pandemonium of clucking. Did duly elected Councils of Roosters identify a stalwart spokes-hen and urge her to accomplish fowl things?
All we have seen is an epidemic of standing ovulations.
Finally, what did municipal roosters get up to in the face of this threat to their coops? The answer is: they occupied themselves sorting out new pecking orders.
This is what a pot on every chicken looks like.