By the people, for the people?
By Ulli Diemer
“By the people, for the people.”
It’s one of those fundamental principles of democracy the high school textbooks like to dwell on.
But the reality of our democracy often falls somewhat short of the ideal. The Toronto Islands eviction controversy is a case in point. These are the facts:
* Residents’ and union groups across Metro don’t want them to leave: more than 70 such groups from all six boroughs, including the city-wide Confederation of Residents and Ratepayers Associations, have passed resolutions urging that the island residents be allowed to stay. 25,000 individuals through-out Metro Toronto have signed pledges of personal support.
* The people of Toronto expressing themselves through public opinion polls don’t want them to leave: There have been eight separate public opinion polls, including three major ones done by professional polling agencies. Every one of them found overwhelming support across Metro for saving the island community. In the least positive of the three polls, 26 per cent were opposed to saving the island homes, while 57 per cent were in favour. The second poll was 62% to 23% in favour of the islanders; the third, 71% to 20% in favour.
Yet, despite all this, a tiny group of Metro councillors, none of them even elected directly to Metro Council, headed by an appointed chairman, Paul Godfrey, seems to have the power and the will to push ahead with the evictions.
There is something wrong here that transcends the question of the island homes, important as they are.
Published in Seven News, Volume 11, Number 3, 11 July 1980.