It seems now's the time everyone in Toronto is looking for a scapegoat and if you've a basic memory for patterns you'll recognize that once again, this choice role is going to the ever-growing blanket statement turned knee-jerk security blanket, "the suburbs." And the ire that title is beginning to get thrown around with is starting the have all the trappings of actual hate speech.
Think about it, the basic predecessor to full-blown ignorance is the fear of something unknown, something different. The majority of this attitude is coming from my peer group, from mid-20 to mid-30 somethings who regularly laud themselves as champions of social and political issues, with a variable perma-overflowing cornucopia of things to protest and defend -- anything but ignorant.
But for all intents and purposes it is this same group of people who are now, in effect, "othering" the suburbs. It'd be an easy thing to shrug, to pass off as heat-of-the-moment, if it weren't so permeating and well, stupid.
The most boring and predictable reaction to just about anything gone wrong in Toronto in the recent past is a rallying, hoarse with it's own self-importance, cry of "DE-AMALGAMATE!" What are you, new? That's not going to work.
And to clarify, when I say "new" I most certainly do not mean new immigrants to Canada, who primarily reside within these apparent Xanadu for demons 'burbs, I mean new in terms people who can afford to move to Toronto and live within its city centre.
Who can apparently afford to move here and garner no basic understanding of what municipal politics came before they did, who complain about the outlying areas they've never set foot in that are single-handedly managing to deteriorate the city they swear they've always lived in. Who transform overnight into fully-formed young urbanites -- as if funky cocktails were Miracle-Gro -- that scoff at the hicks who live anywhere west of High Park, east of Donlands or north of St. Clair. It's a tired rhetoric, cyclical and predictable, yet it's proving harder and harder to de-bunk. Look, a lot of us are going to be stuck with the ever-rising cost of housing that comes with living in Old Toronto as it becomes more white, more wealthy and much less progressive. This is the shape things are beginning to take.
I'm not trying to make it an argument for either side, just that plainly there really isn't a side to be had anymore. Yes, the most well-known and far reaching Toronto amalgamation occurred in 1996. It's the one that gets talked about and latched onto, turned into pointer fingers crossed at the lumbering, resource-sucking beast that is Scarborough, coming to get your lattes in the night.
But well before this Toronto was absorbing the townships and villages around it, as early as 1853. It's what cities do, they grow. What would Toronto de-amalgamate to? Back when Parkdale was it's own village? Or when Mimico left Etobicoke or only to just before Forest Hill joined up so maybe Drake never would've happened? The simple answer is no one knows what de-amalgamation looks like, partially because the process itself suited no one, not even the evil suburbs, at the time that it happened.
The funniest thing to me is that it's people living in "Old Toronto" who consider themselves to be the only true residents put out by the 1996 amalgamation when plain and simple, ya'll were broke. Mike Harris did a dumb thing, we can all agree, but just about every other outlying 'burb was better off before.
Scarborough had a rich, independent education system with a surplus of dollars, small classrooms, and enrichment programs out the wazoo. Same with Etobicoke. In most cases kids who grew up downtown were being bussed out to places like E.S.A. in Etobicoke, and Wexford in Scarborough as their home schools became cramped and literally began to crumble under the lack of budgetary funds for upkeep. It's easy to paint the other guy as the problem but hardly anyone ever stops, when the subject of de-amalgamation comes up, to ask how these supposed cesspools and hell holes were fairing before they became part of a big, cash-strapped family.
It's base and boring to live downtown and brush your hands together and say, "Well we never would've done this," referring to Ford. Sure, numbers don't lie, as far as who initially voted Ford in (for the record, no one I know in Scarborough voted for Ford) but using that logic now is useless because it 100% relies on hindsight. Absolutely no one would have considered him a candidate if we were all somehow mystical seers.
Moreover, why does anybody need a scapegoat when it comes to Ford and what he's thus far done personally, and to the city? His actions and more so his inactions plainly speak for themselves. Justifications like this are ignorant and boring as hell. A lot of cowboys who live in Texas have accents but it doesn't mean that everyone who lives in Texas is a cowboy.
It's a childish explanation at best and it doesn't become you, or me, or the city everyone who has been crammed all together in and loves for their own individualized reasons. Ford has already done the perfect job of making himself the target for all of our glaring disdain. Of what use is it to split up our very justifiable anger and palpable disappointment now instead of continuing to focus it on the one thing responsible for Rob Ford's actions, Rob Ford's ignorance, and Rob Ford's inability to meet the demands -- all of the demands -- of our city: Rob Ford.
How about working at ways to make our amalgamated government work better than it has since thus far it's been poorly structured and unwieldy. Look, no one in Scarborough gives a shit about that taco place you like getting a liquor license just like you don't care about their property getting rezoned but right now it's all grouped in the same city hall meetings.
Likewise, there's a lot better things to lend your name to than another online petition no one is going to read. Solutions like: make some ward councils, make better connections to the community relevant to the community in question, but overall you can start by making some informed choices about your present understanding of how this huge municipality of ours works before you make the choice to start screaming about de-amalgamation and delivering death knells to the suburbs and basically becoming the world's most boring blowhard. We can all do better.