Council’s executive committee yesterday approved Mayor David Miller’s climate-change plan. But despite the unanimous vote, a few of the suburban councillors in attendance—led by Etobicoke Centre’s Gloria Lindsay Luby—were visibly nervous about the proposal to ban gas-powered two-stroke engines, i.e. lawn mowers and leaf blowers, by 2010. They are clearly worried about votes. And they ought to be. You can make fast enemies of people by outlawing their garden tools.
The tone on the part of the dissenters was decisively indecisive, which is to say whiny. They weren’t willing to argue their opposition on principle. They did not point out, for example, how foolish it is for one city to outlaw machines that have been in widespread use across the continent for decades, as though it were in council’s power to turn back the clock on human invention. They merely wondered whether people would be compensated if they had to go out and buy a new electric lawnmower and if 2010 wasn’t a bit too soon to implement a full ban. It was all very tepid. I expect a bigger show from the opposition councillors. I can already see the American Gothic parodies with Mayor Miller holding a leaf rake in front of city hall, or the Welcome to Toronto posters with the list of outlawed home-convenience appliances. And I hope the ban’s proponents respond in kind, with lots of propaganda about noise levels and emissions, which I would wager are at least as hazardous as second-hand cigarette smoke.
I support the ban on leaf-blowers, by the way, but that’s easy for me to say since I, like many old-city-of-Toronto-dwelling-owners-of-small-semidetached-homes-with-tiny-yards, have no need of one. I think rakes are great machines, and I think a return to leaf-raking over leaf-blowing will provide lots of weekend penny-ante work for neighbourhood teenagers, which is one of the reasons rakes were invented. Lawnmowers I hadn’t considered banning (and again I have no need of one personally) but if we all had to switch over to electric lawnmowers I suppose that might be okay, provided we don’t have to burn more coal to get the electricity.