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The TTC is not an essential service

by Arthur Weinreb, Associate Editor,
Thursday, June 8, 2006
Within moments of the walkout by TTC maintenance workers and the shutdown of the system a week ago Monday, there were calls to make Toronto’s transit system an essential service. In one of his more logical moments, Mayor David Miller pointed out that making strikes illegal was not likely to prevent illegal strikes of the type that took place on May 29.

The reality is that the Toronto Transit System is not an essential service. Now police are essential, at least to a well ordered society. Were the police to go out on strike, the streets would soon be overrun by the lawless elements among us; the drug dealers, the muggers, the TTC maintenance workers. It would be total anarchy.

Firefighting is another essential service. Despite much of the city of Toronto consisting of concrete and steel, a small fire, left unchecked is capable of doing a lot of damage to the city, no doubt to the cheers of OCAP members screaming "burn baby, burn".

Doctors and hospitals are essential services to save lives; especially in this era where we are all on the brink of death from smog, global warming and second hand cigarette smoke wafting from those public areas that Dalton McGuinty and his nannies have neglected to make smoke-free (there are still so many open spaces in this province that Ontario is hardly "smoke-free"; another Dalton McGuinty lie).

Electricity is an essential service, without which we would be unable to watch television. We would be the only people on earth who would not be able to learn who the latest American Idol is. We would be deprived of being able to watch Lieutenant-Governor James Bartleman tell us that we are nothing more than a bunch of evil racists, just waiting to attack Canadian Muslims.

All these services are essential but not public transit although many of us like to believe that it is. Years ago, transit strikes resulted in unthinkable gridlock on our streets. Not any more. Years of having elected car-hating local politicians have resulted in constant gridlock on our streets and expressways. On the day of the illegal walkout, traffic was heavier than most other days but the congestion is so bad on a good day that it was hardly noticeable. And the added traffic chaos is usually worse on the early days of a strike or walkout. When strikes have taken place in past, people adjust and the traffic chaos lessens.

Sure there are a lot of people who do not have a car and have places to go and are dependent upon public transit. But again, people are capable of adjusting to situations and adjustments are made: people join carpools; hours of work are staggered and as hard as it is to believe, life goes on.

We in Canada find ourselves immune from natural disasters such as earthquakes, tsunamis and severe hurricanes that wreak havoc and devastation in other parts of the world. There are those guilt-ridden Torontonians who think that this is not "fair" and who won’t rest until they can feel victimized as well. Some of us like to believe that the lack of being able to take the subway downtown is somehow equivalent to being rendered homeless and without food in the aftermath of an earthquake. The reality is that there is no comparison between living in a tsunami-ravaged area and having to find a ride to work.

Even if the TTC might have been considered essential at one time, it isn’t now. With the TTC’s general manager announcing his intended resignation, followed by his immediate dismissal; the constant rumours of more impending illegal strikes and the fact that the Chair of the Toronto Transit Commission is that clown Howard Moscoe, no one should rely on Toronto’s public transit to get around the city, or live in the mindset that considers public transit essential. If the present trend continues, it will only be a matter of time before the slogan "the better way" will become funnier than Howard Moscoe.

Public transit is not an essential service — at least the province got that right.

Arthur Weinreb Arthur Weinreb is an author, columnist and Associate Editor of Toronto Free Press. His work has appeared on, Men's News Daily, Drudge Report,, Glenn Beck and The Rant.
Arthur can be reached at:
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