I have been getting a lot of feedback to my ‘Dam the Dams’ series of columns. The most common comment is that all the background I quoted fits with their personal knowledge and experience.  Even though they realize the ‘men in black’ conspiracy theory was meant to be in fun, they think maybe I am onto something.  I better keep watching for that black helicopter.

Except one guy, who kept poking me in the chest and spitting on my shirt he was so vehement. He said our being shut down is not a conspiracy, it is not about water, it is just Toronto-centric arrogance and stupidity.  He said that Mike Harris appointed a bunch of city-bred academic egghead bureaucrats to a Commission to make recommendations on Ontario’s future.  Their conclusion was that rural Ontario is ‘too expensive’ to maintain and they recommend Ontario ‘abandon’ its rural areas, and encourage everybody to move to Toronto.  He said that by the time the commission reported, McGuinty was in power, and you can see McGuinty is following the reports advice, what with shutting down all our industry with silly regulations, and sticking up those dopey windmills all over the place!

I said that sounds like a joke, and he said “stop laughing, I am serious. The report is called ‘Investing in People’.  You could google it up and see for yourself”.

My first reaction was to add it to the conspiracy theory. – 2004, Men in Black, talking to McGuinty  — “OK, pilgrim, here’s the deal.  We have cooked up this report calling for closing down rural Ontario, you better show progress on making it happen, or your Autopact is gone, also we will make sure the Toronto Maple Leafs never ever win a Stanley cup.”

My second thought was to think this is too far-fetched to be fiction, so I better google it. OMIGAWD, he is right. The report is called “Investing in People- creating a Human Capital Society for Ontario”.  It appears they envision the golden horseshoe, or at least the Greater Toronto Area following the model of say Singapore or Hong Kong, places with no land and no resources.  One of the sub-reports acknowledges that the growth of the GTA has been ‘fueled by growth in the service sector’; apparently they think wealth is created by flipping hamburgers for each other, with no thought as to where the beef comes from!  If you wade through all the bureaucratese long enough, you will come up with the conclusion – shut rural Ontario down!

Investing in People is a big report; a whole lot of Ph. D.’s spent a whole lot of time juggling numbers. Well-meaning people, no doubt, and clearly well-educated people, but we see big-city arrogance and condescension shining like a beacon throughout the report, especially through the section on ‘rural and remote’ Ontario.  They obviously start with the assumption that people who live outside the big smoke are some sort of sub-humans, no ambition or entrepreneurial or business skills, not capable of looking after themselves.  It assumes our sub-human population is the cause of the decline of rural Ontario.  Being impractical academics they are not aware that our decline is caused by the endless government interference and regulation whose main purpose is not what it purports to be, saving the planet, food safety, animal welfare and so on.  Its main purpose is ensuring the wealth all goes to the city.

Along with these breathtakingly arrogant assumptions, they miss the point that wealth is created by actually producing something of value to mankind, shuffling paper and slicing and dicing government subsidies do not create wealth, flipping properties or investments do not create wealth, bureaucrats do not create wealth, the ‘services sector’ does not produce wealth. Rural Ontario produces wealth – who will produce wealth to sustain the new province of Toronto?  With an empty hinterland and resources securely locked up?

Rural Ontario is the real Ontario, most people have roots going back many generations, 200 years, and the intricate connections between people is what makes a community. Greater Toronto’s population mostly arrived these past 40 years, those people are all newcomers, very few having roots going back more than one generation.  It is not a real community, just a government-created monstrosity.  Carpetbaggers!

Pursuing that line of thought, if rural is the real Ontario, this report could be read as the GTA’s Declaration of Independence, they propose to separate from Ontario!   We have been talking about Northwestern Ontario separating, maybe this is a better answer —  Toronto, whose culture and history is so different from real Ontario, should separate!  Just take the incredible layers of bureaucracy and regulation and appalling piles of debt with you, and leave us the wealth you have been taking from the real Ontario these many generations, and leave us in rural Ontario alone!  Good Luck.  Don’t slam the door on your way out!

Of course the process of emptying the north has been going on for fifty years, and this report is only ten years old. So maybe I am right after all, we are being shut down because the Americans need our water, but reinforced by Toronto arrogance!  Watch for that helicopter!

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