Friday, October 29, 2010


Toronto's Revolt Was Merely The First

The downtown lefties haven't got it yet. After spending the year smearing Rob Ford, now they are insisting the new mayor better listen to them or else.
If any mayor ever won a mandate to ignore the outstretched palms of the gliberals, socialists and mushy activists of central Toronto, Ford did.
If any mayor ever won a mandate to insist that bureaucrats no longer treat the motorist as the enemy, to be harassed the minute they drive south of Eglinton between the rivers, Ford did.
If any mayor ever won a mandate to insist the homeless and those needing help be sorted from all the freeloaders and phoney beggars, Ford did.
And this is only the start. Time for a change, the most compelling of all slogans, is stampeding through the world, particularly North America. From the U.S. Teabaggers to the suburbs of Toronto, business as usual just doesn't cut it with the voters.
Consider the giant crowd that overflowed from the Mall in Washington when Jon Stewart, a fake newsman/comic who has the sharpest knife in the U.S. when it comes to ridiculing Fox News and other media excesses, and Stephen Colbert, the over-the-top patriot, had their rally for moderation, against the crazies who spout garbage.
That was the Silent Majority fed-up with the angry rhetoric of candidates and pundits who see every person who doesn't agree with them as evil. In Toronto, we have many examples of that, from Toronto Star columnist Heather Mallice, to give her the nickname hung on her by former colleagues, to those who talked more about Ford's fat and sweat than they did about his policies that so resonated with the voters, especially suburban voters.
Now we turn to Queen's Park, which resembles a kindergarten run amuck, with the Liberals and NDP quick to accuse the Tories and Ford as bigots because they don't fawn over the politically-correct vote.
There will be another record turnout next October when the McGuinty Liberals limp to the finish line. The best they can hope for would be a minority government if the Hudak Tories falter in the final weeks.
They don't deserved to be re-elected, considering the scandalous waste in health and their failure to deal with such festering problems as native demands and barricades.
A federal election can come any day since the opposition parties aren't exactly brilliant in dealing with Harper's Tories. They're liable to goof any day. Even if you dislike what the Conservative government has been doing, consider the alternatives - Michael Ignatieff, who's still learning on the job as a "new" Canadian, Jack Layton, incapable of appealing to most voters, and the traitors from Quebec who know only how to make a good living from the threat of separatism.
The Toronto results are heartening, but we can't rest. There's always a mouthy minority out there, whether unionists, social activists or party stalwarts, who don't want new faces to be elected because that could bring change and that would upset their cushy world of fat contracts, grants and patronage.
To give just one huge example, under the policies of David Miller and the council majority when he was mayor of Toronto, it was impossible to cut spending because under the city's fair wage policy, no company could come in with a bid on a contract that was drastically below what the competition made.
After all, every company had to pay 95% of what a few bureaucrats decreed was the prevailing wage for that work. And in too many cases, non-union companies weren't even considered, although provincial legislation exists to protect all workers from sweat-shop conditions. The fair wage policy is more than a century old, rooted in a past where unions and labour legislation had no clout.
The provincial government's fair wage rate is lower than the city's, and the feds rate is much lower. Labour councils and union presidents insist that most workers are unionized so what are critics grumbling about, but the obvious truth is that union membership is declining, except for public service unions, and with the horrible example of how the auto worker contracts caused the North American car industry to collapse, workers aren't rushing to become unionists. (Written as a former union steward and bargaining chairman in the newspaper industry 50 years ago when reform was needed.)
I have written for years about how costly the city's fair wage policy is, but Toronto council has never had a real debate on it. For several months, Mayor Ford, to union horror, has promised one. And a change would save millions since this would affect nearly $200 million a year in city spending. Yet we already have new councillors saying they want to keep the fair wage policy before they have heard the facts and figures of a complex situation. They don't seem to realize that workers now have legislated protection which never existed at the birth of the policy.
There can be real savings to the taxpayers if they insist to their politicians that they just can't let the gravy train continue where everyone benefits except the general public. Every nook and cranny of an obese City Hall must be re-examined, from fair wage policies to the weird ban on herbicides to the moratorium on safe incineration rather than burying it in expensive landfills.
The only thing that should be buried is business as usual.

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