Saturday, January 28, 2006

On the outside looking in

In addition to Margaret Wente's "I'll say what you're really thinking, so you don't have to" columns, one of my guilty pleasures is reading the unashamed Toronto-centric musings of John Barber in the Globe and Mail. A self-professed eastern bastard, Barber's Saturday's column calls for a new urban agenda funded by energy taxes. It's up for grabs for the next Liberal leader to exploit. But he also suggests that the Tories might be the ones to realistically make it happen. Giving cities the funds they need via carbon taxes with its shades of the hated NDP might be something only the Tories can do. A line of thinking that runs along the lines of "only Nixon can go to Chindia"

The article lurches around with no focus, so I think that's what he's calling for. But his opening is just golden:

"On election day, a press release from the Centre for Family Literacy in Edmonton, headlined "Two in Five Adult Albertans Cannot Read," crossed my desk. Puzzled at first, I soon realized what that two in five was up to (apart from voting for Stephen Harper). They're blogging.

And they're still hard at it a week later, their triumphalism undercut by the usual complaints about the godless eastern bastards who have once again, perversely, voted for parties that promised to protect their own interests.

As lonely as it may seem, we are lucky to be excluded from this new world. Last week, the cities agenda was a vague wish list at the margins of Canadian political consciousness. Today it represents the single greatest challenge to the new government, a wish list made manifesto by city voters' wholesale rejection of Tory policies.

Now that the west is in, it's better for us to be out."

This seems to be an emerging theme from urban leaders: We can get more out of Harper by being on the outside of power, so let's exploit it. Look how much return Toronto got from voting in Liberal after Liberal, twelve years of being taken for granted.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I may be wrong but I believe that giving the cities a portion of the gas tax was initially a Conservative (or Alliance) proposal and then Martin had to match it in the election. So, I don't think there is any problem with Harper keeping this one - I think his complaint is that it is too backended- where the money does not really begin to come in until the fifth year or so and he would like to speed that up. Same with the Atlantic Accord - Harper proposed it and Martin then had to offer it too (him following up on that promise was the tough part) so that was also a Conservative policy and should be safe.