Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Dawn Of The Dead

Last night, I went to a public hearing at Toronto City Council where the topic of discussion was whether or not to allow jets to land at the airport on Toronto Island. I knew it was going to be brutal. I knew I was going to hear angry rants about the airport, about its devastating environmental impact, about how it would poison the water, about how it was another example of big business running wild. I was prepared to see pro-jets people get shouted down, mocked, booed. That's the way debates work. Bring it on, I thought.

What I wasn't prepared for were anti-jets people coming to the microphone and declaring -openly- that the debate wasn't necessary.  As far as they were concerned, there was no case for the airport, there could be no conceivable case for the airport, and the fact that somebody even deigned to raise the issue was offensive. To loud applause, they did this. Over and over again.

I was blown away.

A Toronto Port Authority spokesperson reassured the crowd that if there was an impact on the environment, if the noise levels were too high, if anyone's feelings were hurt, then the expansion would not go ahead. They stressed that the nature of the agreement meant that the City of Toronto, the federal Minister of Transport, and the Port Authority all had to sign the deal, no small feat. The meeting itself revealed that no action was to be taken until after the municipal election this year. To no avail. They might as well have been speaking in Martian. These speakers were absolutely livid that there was any probability that this expansion could happen. They were calling for the imprisonment of the CEO of Porter Airlines for having the temerity to ask for the expansion. They wanted to convict Robert Deluce of thoughtcrime.

Now, of course, these speakers were likely paid to be there by their unions and make deputations, or were activists with a prior interest. Of course they weren't speaking for everyone, and of course they had an agenda. That's fine. What isn't fine is that these people believed they didn't need to justify themselves. They were just right. The sense of entitlement on display was absolutely breathtaking. They absolutely walked in there ready willing and able to shut down a debate that needed to happen. It was like watching a zombie movie where human beings had been replaced with soulless killing machines consumed with hunger for other people's flesh.

And what about us? Are we just right? Naaah. In Hamilton, a couple of PCPO candidates resigned. Klees quit, and Dave Brister got shown the door. A telephone town hall that for some reason made the pages of the Toronto Star shows that the PCPO rank and file are panicky about "right to work" and the response they're getting at the doors. They say the policy is unclear, that they're stepping down for personal reasons, and a whole other host of excuses, but we know exactly what the real reason for this fear is.

It is OK to be opposed to right to work, or to the airport expansion, or to a power plant in Mississauga, or to anything. Table the issue, vote on it, and let the people decide. But these walking dead don't play by those rules. They don't want it debated on or voted on. And meanwhile, we are in the same boat as Kathleen Wynne, lamely trying to justify ourselves and stick to messaging. These entitlement zombies don't need no stinking messaging.  They don't have telephone town halls where they panic about how people are confused about policies that aren't even in the platform. They don't have "consultations." They brush off possible violations of the law like it's dirt off their shoulders.

What's it going to take to convince people that the old rules have stopped working and that new rules are called for?


  1. So without evidence, you say that people are paid to make deputations by concealed (private?) interests, rather than them being a reflection of individuals representing the public interest, but you then neglect the possibility that the discussion of the airport itself reflects private, rather than public interest?

    Your position is unfalsifiable-- everyone who disagrees with you is wrong because they disagree with you?

  2. On the contrary. My position- fair comment, backed up by the fact that I've seen some of these same people before at different protests- would easily be falsifiable, if only the unions in question would open their books and disclose the relevant information. But I'm not holding my breath.

    It is in both the private and public interest to have a debate on whether this airport has a net benefit. The people speaking against the airport didn't want that debate.