Critics accuse Mayor Ford of getting all Shock Doctrine-y
The Toronto Star never quite comes out and says it, but the basic argument various critics of Rob Ford seem to be making is that Toronto’s budget disaster isn’t quite as dire as the mayor and his allies have let on. And why would the powers that be want to inflate the scale of the budget hole? Because the bigger the city’s perceived financial disaster, the more reason the mayor has to mandate broad, sweeping cuts to services.
[2010 surplus funds and other new revenues] whittle the shortfall down to about $443 million, still a huge sum but $330 million less than the Ford administration is saying publicly.
Key Ford officials mention the $774 million number on a regular basis, in the context of the city’s need to tame the budget….
“I think the mayor is trying to create a political climate that suggests that the City of Toronto government is broken,” said Councillor Gord Perks, a key budget figure in the old David Miller administration.
“The kind of damage that Rob Ford wants to do to services Torontonians rely on can only be achieved if he terrorizes the public into believing we need to do it,” Perks said.
That is almost exactly the same argument Naomi Klein made in her 2007 book The Shock Doctrine—but given that 96 per cent of Toronto’s services are impossible to cut, as those KPMG audits keep finding, Ford really isn’t going to be able to change people’s lives the way, say, a Latin American junta might. So it’s a mild shock, if it’s anything.
The broader point—that in a $10-billion budget, even the big numbers thrown around ($700 million!) could actually be addressed with some combination of moderate program trimming and minor tax increases—is a bit more accurate, a lot less interesting and not really news.
(Images: The Shock Doctrine cover; Ford, Shaun Merritt)