There was a gigantic blue elephant in the room that councillors didn’t notice the other night. It was gobbling up spare change and money that should be used for other services, but no one said a thing about it.
Instead, city councillors tried to find other money by raising the rent on daycare centres, changing user fees on city programs, selling off the city’s ski operations, golf courses, and maybe Toronto Hydro, too. They also agreed to raise property taxes.
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Why didn’t they notice the animal that has grown bloated on all the taxpayer money it has been grabbing for itself?
Because the blue elephant is the police department, and councillors never want to question what it wants.
Other city departments were told to cut expenditures by five per cent. The police department was allowed to increase its budget by $33 million, to $888 million this year from $854 million last year. The police will grow by an extra 134 new staff members this year — even though crime has been falling for the past 10 years and the police answered fewer calls last year than the year before.
Why are our elected officials afraid to recognize the elephant in the room?
Because they fear that if they did, they would be accused of being soft on crime.
Because they know that those who have been critical of the police have been attacked by the Toronto Police Association and finally decided to step aside. That’s what has happened to Alan Heisey, Judy Sgro, Olivia Chow, and Susan Eng, to name just four.
The blue elephant is a bully scoffing money needed for other city services. We should red-line the blue elephant and make it do with the money it got last year. That would free up an extra $33 million
The city council budget meeting is not for another month. In the interim, will any councillor or mayoralty candidate acknowledge the elephant in the room and take away its toys?