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Is This The Year We End Toronto Apathy?
Today's Globe and Mail featured what I can only take to be a seriously-misguided letter to the editor by one Denbigh Patton of Toronto, entitled "No welfare for T.O.":
John Barber's analogy of Toronto as a "welfare" recipient, rich with assets, demanding more, is tiresome (Cowardly Mayoral Hopefuls Afraid Of Toll-Road Solution -- Feb. 27). Toronto is more like a hard-working employee, paying higher taxes than ever, but whose paycheque hasn't come in years. Why won't Mr. Barber acknowledge, in his elaborate analysis, the vast sums of money the federal government gets in taxes from Toronto? Mel Lastman's demands for federal money are Toronto's response to the change in the historical balance between how much we share with the rest of Canada, and how much is returned here. Here's another analogy that fits, Mr. Barber: Toronto is the goose that lays the golden egg. It's care and feeding time.
The thrust of the letter is reasonable, although I continue to direct most of my anger at the provincial government, rather than the feds. Where the letter is misguided is in its attack on John Barber, which must be based on having read only the one article, and not his regular output, week after week. It's been Barber, more than anyone else in mainstream print journalism, who has illustrated the hundreds of ways in which Toronto, "the golden-egg-laying goose", has been, and continues to be, throttled. I was likely struck by the letter because I am such a big John Barber fan. However, the letter may also be indicative of the state of awareness of Toronto's political situation. I suppose that I could take Denbigh Patton's low awareness of John Barber's profile to indicate that he, like most others, hasn't been following along. I prefer to believe that it is a sign that talk about Toronto's raw deal is beginning to spread enough that not everyone is relying on the same few sources. Perhaps Toronto has been downtrodden and mistreated for so long, that its residents are starting to take note and get involved, even if they don't happen to be regular John Barber readers. If this is true, it's about time. 2003 sees us facing crucial provincial and municipal elections. It is time for Toronto voters to stand up and say "we're frankly tired of being taken advantage of."

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