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WARREN CLEMENTS

Toronto's budget battle in verse Add to ...

Last Thursday, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford and his executive council welcomed Torontonians who wished to respond to proposals that public services be trimmed or slashed to reduce the deficit. The committee said it would begin listening in the morning and would remain overnight and for as long as it took to hear about 350 people who had signed up to speak for three minutes, reduced from the usual five.

The willingness of Mr. Ford and his allies to keep an open mind was positively bracing. Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti said earlier in the week that “it’s always the same people” who show up at these meetings. “It’s people that have a clear interest in terms of how they’ve done business at the city … Most people that have something positive to say about what we’re doing, they work and they’re at the job site.”

Toronto-based author Margaret Atwood, who used Twitter to rally Torontonians in favour of preserving library services, was applauded for her sense of civic responsibility by Councillor Doug Ford, Rob Ford’s brother. “Good luck to Margaret Atwood,” he said. “I don’t even know her. She could walk by me and I wouldn’t have a clue who she is.”

How could this charm offensive not bring a song to the heart?

Oh, pack up the children and strap them on board. We’re off to the council, our views to record. For this is the day when we talk to Rob Ford, A beautiful day to be blithely ignored. Hey, ho, sings Giorgio.

We want your opinions, the Fordians decreed. We won’t move a muscle, we’ve stoutly agreed. But please don’t expect us to pay any heed. You’re not one of us. You’re a different breed. Hey, ho, sings Giorgio.

Democracy’s trappings are itchy and hot. We know we must wear them. We’d far rather not. This lineup of people annoys us a lot. And spare us – oh, please – those opinions you’ve brought. Hey, ho, sings Giorgio.

You writers, you artists, you liberal sorts, You nattering nabobs with knots in your shorts, We try to be patient. We’re met with retorts. You’re lucky we don’t pour hot oil from our forts. Hey, ho, sings Giorgio.

We think it’s insulting you say this parade Is simply cosmetic, a naked charade. You folks should give thanks on your knees that we stayed And listened to all those stuck records you played. Hey, ho, sings Giorgio.

The weather is rainy. Humidity’s high. A flash of unpleasantness rips through the sky. You’re lucky we’re here for you. All done? Goodbye. And thank you for coming. No wait, that’s a lie. Hey, ho, sings Giorgio.

Warren Clements lives in Toronto. He knows who Margaret Atwood is.

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