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Reversing the Tories' Record on Toronto

John Sewell has devoted his eye column this week to a review of the many ways that the Harris/Eves government has been an eight-year nightmare for the City of Toronto. He does a good job of it. What's worse is that most of the attacks that he has described had a rougher impact in the core of the city -- the old City of Toronto.

Sewell hopes that the coming election signals the end of our hard times:

It has been a disastrous eight years for Toronto and Ontario. Undoubtedly, Eves will use all of the government money he can scratch together -- and all of the money he can raise -- for television advertisements that he hopes will bamboozle voters in the coming election.

If he is successful, one fears for civilized life in Toronto and other urban centres in Ontario. But should the province's voters reject his empty advertisements, then the fixing must start straight away.

Unfortunately, I'm not so sure.

Let's assume that the Ontario Liberals form the next provincial government. Certainly we can hope that this will mean the end of the assault. I trust the Liberals to stop heaping abuse on us. But, will they be willing to pay the political price required to reverse some of the PCs' injustices?

Consider this point from Sewell's column:

The Ontario government pushed its costs down onto municipalities by rewriting funding arrangements for local transit, affordable housing, social service programs and public health. City staff estimate the extra annual costs piled onto Toronto's property taxpayers totalled $276 million in 2001.

For McGuinty to reverse this will mean a gain for Toronto at the expense of the rest of the province.

Another example:

[An education] funding formula was put in place that discriminates against Toronto's older schools, and education spending in Toronto was reduced by 20 per cent (almost $400 million).

This was done at the same time that education was shifted (in part) to province-wide property taxation, along with new current market value assessment. The result: downtown Toronto property-tax-payers support education across the province while our schools are closed.

This is wrong, but for the new government to reverse it they will likely pay a political price across the province. Meanwhile, Torontonians don't seem up for a fight.



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