T.O. DOES LOUSY JOB ON DEFENCE
The cottage potluck party is a pleasant affair. It also gives me an insight into life outside the bubble of Toronto where all the people live who either dislike the Big Smoke a trifle or hate it a lot.
My cottage neighbours gather in the dead of winter to exchange notes about how the cottages are surviving, to look at baby pictures of grandchildren, and to appreciate the joys of rum.
We don't go all the way to Burnt Point, now frozen above Healey Falls on the Trent River, but one of us has a lovely sprawling home half-way there, a beauty that is twice the size of my humble home in Etobicoke but is assessed at less and is taxed at more.
Which bugs the owner, a C.A. who knows his way around numbers, and figures Torontonians are always whining about taxes when his municipality on the edge of the G.T.A. gets treated much worse at Queen's Park.
Which we discussed, loudly, over the fourth beer before the great food.
The potluck party is a grounding for me in life in Canada as seen through the eyes of some people who really don't follow current events. There is one couple who don't read newspapers or magazines or watch news or political shows on TV. Talk to them about how awful it is that the Ontario voters keep ignoring the shenanigans and costly vote buying of the ruling Liberals and it might as well be happening on an Australian island.
After half-a-century of working in the media and being submerged by what my colleagues are saying, I have often stubbed my toe on the fact that so many in this country really don't like Toronto. We are the piggies of Hawgtown.
There are two versions of how we got the insult. One is that we used to "hog" credit for everything that happened in Ontario, or Canada for that matter. The second is, that like Chicago, we slaughtered most of the pigs of the country before the stockyards of the Junction turned into plazas and super-box stores.
It was only a couple of decades ago, or so it seems, that the Junction was an area with pens and cattle and pigs and stink and sidings as far as the eye could see.
Now it's gone but the name remains, and a dislike of the city by the rest of the country.
The old joke is that hatred of Toronto was one of the unifying forces behind Confederation and is still keeping Canada united.
You would have thought there would be some mercy generated by the dismal Leafs, which were once called Canada's team, as if they had nothing to do with the city, but that's not about to happen, even if the old rivalry with Montreal died long ago.
It strikes me that when Mayor John Tory goes cap-in-hand to Ottawa, begging for more in his tax bowl, that he and the other 44 members of council are targeting politicians who really don't see any votes for them in helping Toronto.
Tory and the councillors have sung the song of need for so long, they don't realize that most of the people outside the Toronto bubble really don't know the words, or the facts.
And they don't care because they don't feel guilty.We must make them feel guilty.
I asked my cottage friend why I as a Toronto taxpayer should subsidize his trips on GO and the TTC when he and his wife drive to Oshawa and then use that public transit twice a day because they work inside Toronto.
Toronto has costly and additional problems in transit, roads, Hydro and policing because it is a magnet for all those who want to work here each day but avoid hassles by fleeing outside for the rest of the time to larger houses with more lot that cost far less than in the city.
Toronto has costly and additional problems in welfare and education because most immigrants want to come here because of the opportunity and all the special programs such as English as a second language. More people with income, employment and language problems live in the city than in the GTA. Social housing is clustered in the city.
It is a dirty secret at Queen's Park and Ottawa that they force the city to pay extra for provincial and federal programs that are forced upon the city and are not the responsibility of city taxpayers.
The list is endless of how the city is ripped off by the senior levels of government, which is how those pickpocket organizations dignify themselves as they extract more money in federal and provincial income tax and fuel taxes than they get from the rest of the country.
Instead of the usual mumbo jumbo of griping, the city must confront the rest of the country with several crisp pages detailing how the smaller rural ridings routinely get far more assistance than the larger Toronto ridings. We must embarrass them as freeloaders.
The wonder is that there hasn't been a move to secede by the 2.8 million Torontonians tired of being the financial anchor of a country that loves to call it names.