The left has done enough for Toronto
Apparently “progressives” don’t speak up enough. I must not have noticed the 30 or so, left-of-centre councillors that sit in City Hall and run the city, some of the major mayoral candidates, countless people representing left-of-centre organizations that appear on TV nightly, this newspaper at times and countless other ones across the city. These voices are speaking loudly.
If anything, this opinion is never silent and is not progressive at all.
The cynic in me thinks this attitude in the city needs to change. I’ve always been fascinated by how a lot of people I’ve come across who are willing to label themselves as progressive are so one-sided and narrow in their thinking they will not consider or entertain a differing opinion.
They are also quick to criticize and use old and worn-out labels like “redneck” and “hidden agenda” to denounce and condemn anything remotely to the right.
As far as I am concerned, these same people that have been labelled as “silent” have done enough for the City of Toronto and it’s time someone else with a different opinion takes over the reins at City Hall. For once it would be nice to hear and see how the “unprogressive” side would run the city.
A city like Toronto says it welcomes all people from all backgrounds, orientations and experiences, and for the most part this is true, but if say you are conservative it’s like you have the plague and you need to be shunned. My opinion matters just as much as anyone on the left.
People will bring up the same old cliches when talking about those who have damaged Toronto: Mel Lastman, Mike Harris and Stephen Harper.
People are quick to forget that there have been progressive right-of-centre candidates who have done, or could have done, some good - John Tory, Torontonians almost made him Mayor and Premier; Bill Davis who made transit a priority and killed highway projects in Toronto; the much hated Brian Mulroney won seats in Toronto and was once picked as Canada’s “greenest” Prime Minister.
Now, to be fair, some people on the right need to be more flexible on issues. The federal and provincial Tories would probably make greater headway in the city in their next elections if they came up with a detailed and comprehensible transit plan and restored funding to Transit City and then stopped playing this foolish political game of playing off rural and urban voters.
But people, and candidates, on the left need to realize that there are some issues the city could benefit from if implemented.
Having a balanced budget would be a good start, we all benefit from that. Spend our tax money like it’s yours. Cutting back on services the city really shouldn’t be providing but feels it must. Building a subway on important streets like Eglinton instead of a light-rail line. Building a smart and useful bike network instead of putting one in for the sake of putting one in because everyone else in Europe is doing it. Europe is a great place with wonderful ideas and people but sometimes we need made-in-Toronto ideas to fix made-in-Toronto problems.
These tendencies do go through cycles. Right now the city is firmly entrenched in the left-of-centre camp. That’s fine, but I detest the insistence that the left-of-centre folks in this city are being ignored.
And if the two respected bloggers feel the left is being shut out that’s actually quite unfortunate. There are many examples, some I highlighted already, that show this clearly is not the case.
If anything, the right has a very valid case to make for feeling left out of helping build a stronger city. These are the ones who have truly been silenced by the city, most of its politicians, and some residents.
Regardless of your opinion and political beliefs, this city would work better if people dropped silly labels like “progressive” and focused on what is best for the City of Toronto and the GTA as a whole. Toronto works better when everyone feels included and welcomed to discuss issues.
Both sides have good ideas that can be helpful in tackling the important issues in Toronto. To dismiss one outright is not constructive and only deepens the animosity between people on both sides of the political spectrum.