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2005 12 28
Hidden Toronto
imageThe Boxing Day shooting of seven innocent bystanders on Yonge street is a disturbing, reprehensible act. What are the shooters thinking? What kind of culture spawns people who will do this?

When we talk about the effective design of modern cities we are not restricted to discussions about physical form. We must also look how the design of our social and economic policies affects youth and low income segments of the population. When the Mike Harris government strips away funding for the poor and cuts back on social services to fund tax reductions, what are we actually saving? In the short term taxpayers may pay slightly less per year but the long term costs are profound. That is not to say there is an obvious linear connection between tax cuts and Monday's acts of violence. If there were then any rational person would pay a few dollars more per year to help insure that their children are safe on city streets.

Unfortunately, perceiving the cause and effect relationships of social funding demands statistical analysis beyond the conceptual grasp of most citizens. That's why it is relatively easy for some governments to gain quick approval ratings by cutting spending on the less privileged. Who will know enough or care enough to speak out?

We often hear from politicians about how we need to turn back the clock to a time of more conservative values. Well, I agree. When I was a kid growing up under a long standing conservative government, people in Ontario did not sleep under bridges. There were schools for pretty well everyone who wanted and needed them. Cities and provinces spent money to ensure the income gap between rich and poor was not too great. If that's the golden conservative age they are talking about, I'm all for it.

We can prevent tragedies like Mondays shooting from happening. It's almost too easy. We start by paying the real costs of a civilized society today so that ten years from now all our children will have the opportunity to build lives worth living.

[email this story] Posted by R Ouellette on 12/28 at 12:16 PM

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