By Stephen Vance, Editor
So Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound MPP Bill Murdoch tells the Bruce County Federation of Agriculture that he thinks Toronto should separate and become it’s own province in order to provide a more effective provincial government for the rest of Ontario, and a bunch of city slickers now have their knickers in a knot.
Say what you want about Murdoch, but the man is fearless, tells it as he sees it, and is one of the more entertaining politicians on the current political landscape.
It is sometimes difficult to agree with the things that Murdoch does or says, but the point that Murdoch is really trying to get across is that the current provincial structure does not fairly and adequately address the needs of small town Ontario.
Though it is easy to understand how such a comment can lead to Murdoch being characterized as some sort of a ‘wacko’, the fact is that what he said is how many who live in rural Ontario feel.
Murdoch said that laws that are passed by the provincial legislature are done so with a ‘Toronto mentality’, and it would be difficult to argue otherwise.
Residents of rural Ontario and smaller centres have long felt neglected and without an effective voice when it comes to provincial politics. The current coyote debate is a perfect example of an issue that has an impact on rural communities, but the province is turning a blind eye to.
Ontario farmers are concerned about their property and livestock, but their hands are tied by provincial legislation, and are asking the province to help provide a solution. You can bet that if coyotes were converging on Bloor Street and snatching Gucci handbags, that the provincial government would jump into high gear to allow Toronto residents to protect themselves and their property.
To be fair, the city of Toronto could rightly argue that the amount of income and sales taxes generated there far exceed what it gets back from upper levels of government, so in effect, Toronto does help subsidize the smaller communities in our province.
In a democracy though, the old adage of “He who has the gold makes the rules” will always and forever create friction as it goes against the spirit of what a democratic society is supposed to be. We all know that sort of mentality exists, most of us however don’t talk about it much, and merely accept it as a reality.
Murdoch has chosen to step up and open the can of worms.
What is interesting is how those in Toronto respond to the suggestion that the city should become it’s own province, or to the criticism that the provincial legislature operates with a ‘Toronto mentality’.
The Toronto Star’s Rosie DiManno wrote a column entitled “Hick MPP can Have All Rural Ontario” (March 17, Toronto Star).
In that column DiManno refers to the Bruce County Federation of Agriculture as sounding “Gay-commie”, and more than once refers to Murdoch as a “Hick”. DiManno also makes light of the coyote issue and suggest that it should not be a reason for Ontario farmers to “Get their overalls in a twist”.
“Let ’em long-gun shoot all the coyotes they want, in season and with a properly registered firearm, as the law allows,” offers DiManno.
Not exactly the language one would use when talking about anyone that they respect. Perhaps this is a glimpse of the ‘Toronto mentality’ that Murdoch is referring to.
Liberal strategist and advisor to Premier Dalton McGuinty Warren Kinsella, posted a short entry on his blog site in response to Murdoch’s suggestion.
“I recommend that Bill Murdoch create a separate country for himself. He can be King, and the rest of us can put up a tall fence so that we don’t have listen to his crazy crap anymore. Randy Hillier, naturally, will apply to emigrate to Murdochland. (We’ll help him pack.),” wrote Kinsella.
Rural Ontario (“Hick”) issues are “crazy crap”, and the Bruce County Federation of Agriculture sounds as though it might be “Gay-commie”, who sounds ridiculous now?