KICKING OUT CITY HALL A GOOD MOVE
The annual financial meeting the other day of the Canadian National Exhibition Association was more fun than a good Midway ride because Canada's biggest fair is making money while providing a lot of jobs.
It's great we declared independence from City Hall two years ago - of course it was on April Fool"s Day - because the city bureaucrats acting as landlord for the fair aren't exactly great party people.
And just look at how they screwed up stadiums there for 20 years.
Exhibition Place kept getting in our way. (I'm a former president and still harangue the board. ) So we said the hell with it, give them a lot of money to rent for 18 days each August, and pray that they won't be more of a problem than they are now.
Some Exhibition Place staff work for the fair on a contract basis. And we rent the 192-acre site and a shrinking number of buildings even though they are only there because of the existence of the fair and the money it has made since it started in 1879.
Last year the CNE paid $3,786,522 to the city while still making $1,639,737. Its impact on the community is huge. It spent $28 million last year, 70% of it on jobs.
I am not a fan of stats about economic impact because they seem glorified gobbledygook but the fair is said to have an annual economic impact on the Greater Toronto Area of nearly $70 million while the financial impact on the province is said to be just over $100 million.
Some key CNEA members are off to Queen's Park to sing our praises because when a non-profit volunteer board makes money while giving all that money to city taxpayers, along with 1.2 million free kids' passes, when the association makes money while employing 5,000 young people each fair day, we think we are entitled to more respect than we get from MPPs and councillors.
At least I hope our key board members survive the new overbearing security and actually get in to sing our praises at the reception that we are giving for politicians and all the bureaucrats who come out of the woodwork at freeloads.
After all, the security has tightened at the Legislature and Parliament because of that deadly kook. As a journalist who has spent decades of his working life inside City Hall, Queen's Park and the Commons, I know how far security guards and police will go when given a loophole.
I carried press identification, and had the highest security clearance granted by the military and Mounties to a journalist, but still used to have routine skirmishes with security who have forgotten that you should not have to identify yourself to enter a public building in a democracy, just as you don't have to do so to cops on the street unless they are investigating a nearby incident where you may match a suspect's description.
According to a background memo from CNEA staff, they have given to provincial security a list of board members. Then we will have to produce government issued identification on arrival. And there will be a check made to ensure the names match EXACTLY.
I am reminded of the nonsense when I was part of a famous world press institute travelling from Jerusalem into Ammanwhen we were kept broiling in desert no man's land for a couple of hours even though the Jordanians had had our passports for a day. They wondered later why they didn't get a better "press." Our unpopular politicians might think about that instead of deferring to security and police who would be happiest if no one came at all, like that baseball game in Baltimore.
I am reminded of the bitter joke that thank heavens those would-be airplane bombers had their explosives in shoes and underwear because if they had been stuck up their rectums, security at the airport now would be a messy proctologist's dream. (I took Mary to L.A, on Air Canada last month and they patted her down and inspected every inch for eight minutes. A small 80-year-old woman using canes and a walker is apparently a likely terrorist to those idiots at Malton.)
The problems at Queen's Park are not the ordinary people wanting to visit the seat of the provincial government or organizations coming to lobby. It's not the people coming up the front steps of that pile of stone that is the daily threat, it's the billions going out the back doors under the Liberal governments.
Security should not be facing out, they should be facing in. The foxes are already inside the hen house. That's what happens when more attention is paid to security than to voting.