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EDITORIAL: Reclaiming our city (Summer 2018)

August 12th, 2018 · No Comments

Doug Ford announced his intention to cut Toronto City Council from 47 to 25 members last month. Coming when the municipal election had already begun, without notice or consultation, this move is a threat to our right to be represented equitably and effectively. While this bombshell seems to have taken everyone by surprise, it’s certainly nothing new. We thought it fitting to reprint a May 1997 forum piece by Evelyn Rupert in lieu of an editorial. It has been edited for length.

This is just the end of the beginning of a long struggle against the provincial take-over of local government and democracy in Metro Toronto.

Citizens and communities have their work cut out for them as they confront the Tory implementation machinery and try to reclaim what has been unilaterally been taken away from them in the name of municipal reform.

Will the dialogue on the principles of local democracy continue? During the past few months a space has opened up for public debate about democracy and citizenship for public policies: whether it is civic institutions (municipal governments and school boards), public institutions (hospitals and libraries) or public resources (water).

A space has been created for public dialogue about the implications about transferring control away from locally elected governments to provincial bureaucracies and appointees, and away from governments to presumably arms-length and unaccountable commissions.

In this political context, how can the public dialogue be sustained and advanced to challenge the powerful corporate, private, and provincial interest that will continue their agenda of appropriating public and civic institutions?

Many groups, forums, and individuals have emerged as strong voices challenging official definitions and established claims about what constitutes a democracy. Diverse interests and groups have undertaken numerous activities, bringing to the debate a lot of concerns and issues, but with agreement on a few fundamental principles about democracy and active citizenship.

One of the major strengths of what may well be an emerging citizens’ movement, has been the bringing together of these diverse interests, of a coalition of interests that cut across the political spectrum, that goes beyond left and right. As such, it has been a mirror of the city itself — as a place where the people come together with their differences.

It’s a movement that has found Citizens for Local Democracy as an umbrella or coalition group, joined by numerous other groups — which have all come together at key moments.

The provincial government and its supporters are self-declared revolutionaries who are attempting to overthrow local democracy. They are taking over the city.

The best hope for maintaining the public dialogue on democracy and challenging the strong corporate and provincial interests is the sustained actions of the diverse groups who have been reclaiming citizens’ rights to the governance of the city.

Being engaged, being an active citizen of Toronto is no longer merely a right; it has now become a necessity, a responsibility. But the challenge ahead is to harness the energies that have arisen from diverse citizens in the past few months and channel them into an effective movement. The work has just begun.

 

READ MORE EDITORIALS: 

EDITORIAL: City staff ignore bike lanes (July 2018)

EDITORIAL: The market has no moral compass (Election Special 2018)

EDITORIAL: Lessons to be learned from Excessive Force (Spring 2018)

EDITORIAL: A social contract is a precious thing (March 2018)

EDITORIAL: Intolerance leading to Quebec’s decline (Dec. 2017)

EDITORIAL (Nov. 2017): Student safety suffers as trustees cave

EDITORIAL: Pandering to religious intolerance (October 2017)

EDITORIAL: Bike lanes, good for business (Fall 2017)

EDITORIAL: Don’t sacrifice safety for political gain (August 2017)

EDITORIAL: Thank you Mr. Asti (July 2017)

EDITORIAL: A watershed moment (June 2017)

EDITORIAL: Revoke U of T’s unchecked “licence to build” (May 2017)

EDITORIAL: Westbank’s positive precedent (April 2017)

EDITORIAL: Foreign buyers tax a necessary cliff jump (March 2017)

Tags: Annex · Editorial · Opinion