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Toronto: The Two-Four'd City

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Allan Fotheringham, some time ago, suggested The Big Lemon as an appropriate name tag for Canada's #1 city: a bit more pinched than the Big Apple or the Big Easy.

Mel Lasman called out the army to deal with its snow and many Canadians called it the Big Wuss -- or maybe that was a reference to the long-suffering Maple Leafs?

Most recently, Margaret Atwood suggested calling Rob and Doug Ford the "Twin Fordmayor" -- not quite like the Twin Towers, though perhaps just as heavy, city mayor and brother councillor having been awarded the Order of the Baconator vs. Margaret's Order of Canada.

Personally, I am a former Toronto resident now living in Vancouver, by the Salish Sea. I'd like to suggest a new name tag:

"T.O.: The Two-Four'd City".

Buffalo has its wings; Hamilton is (or at least was) Steel Town. Montreal has its own rules -- and not only for expressway construction -- and Ottawa has, well, Ottawa.

Toronto's Fords, mayor and councillor, may not think much of libraries, or culture or what pride means in the 21st century, but they are theatrical in a Coach's Corner, 24-hour council meeting, flipping the bird and cussing at a mom and six-year-old kid and talking on a cellphone while driving, two-four box of beer kind of way.

The 1990s introduced all Canadians to the term 905. The Harris Common Sense (if not cents) Revolution continues. The Visigoths have arrived -- Canada's answer to Tea Party right-wingers who would reward the rich, discount the environment and screw community. The "two-four'ds" represent all this and more.

What to do, Toronto? Don't let them close your local library: occupy it, run it. Don't let them shut down needed services, for the poor, for seniors, for families. Insist on there being a public sphere to level social playing fields, to ensuring community in any normal meaning of that term survives.

Fiscal and monetary debates are now a commonplace. In this discourse we should not ignore the difference between efficiency and effectiveness.

As Peter Drucker has suggested, "Efficiency is doing things right; effectiveness is doing the right things." Many of our instant anti-tax political experts pose the former at the cost of the latter. American Tea Party contributions to the recent U.S. debt crisis make this point -- one hopefully not lost north of 49.

Memory from my youth, some of it misspent, is that getting "two-four'd" often left a large hangover to cope with. Can T.O. avoid this fate? Not with only 350 turning up in answer to the "two-four'd's" invitation to dialogue on budget cuts. The next time the big fella suggests such a conversation, maybe 35,000 should sign up. They could insist that their libraries stay open so they have something to read while they await their five minutes of local democratic dialogue with the mayor and council for -- unless it is Pride weekend and the mayor has dropped out to his Muskoka family hideaway.

Oh yes, and Vancouver? Our aversion may be different, but also fundamental to success. But here the police will have already dumped out your two-four, and it was raining anyway. And the Ontario Teachers' Pension Fund, which intended to sell its share of the Maple Leafs plans to buy Impark to which Vancouverites owe money and love to hate.

Luckily we still have the Green Riders and Watermelon Heads and the Jets are back, so hope remains. But "two-four T.O" could still remain the glue that binds, even as Montreal's infrastructure collapses.

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