Letter from the Editors, Feb-March 2023

Letter from the Editors, February-March 2023

This issue of The Grind, dear reader, goes to the printer as we enter a brief period without a mayor. John Tory, elected in 2014, then again in 2018 and 2022, officially submitted his resignation on February 15. This came after The Toronto Star broke the news that Tory, in his late 60s, had a sexual relationship with a staff member in his office who seems to have been 29 when it started.

Tory is out, and good riddance.

But we’re left living with his budget. And the majority of City Council shares his vision for the city.

What that means practically is that if you’re reading this on the TTC, you already had to pay the extra 10 cent fare increase, or will soon. And the wait times for buses and subways have gotten longer.

It also means the police got another $48 million on top of their already obscene budget to hire 200 more cops.

In a city known for violent encampment evictions, inadequate shelter space, unbearably high rents, mediocre public transit, an endlessly- growing wealth gap, and a dwindling number of music venues, giving the police more money feels like City Hall giving us a big “Fuck You.”

But let’s face it, despite the sham consultations and town halls, this budget was never going to be for us. And if you’re reading this as a Black, Indigenous, brown, or poor person, you may already be familiar with the ways police treat you differently in public spaces.

Up against Tory and his sweeping “Strong Mayor” powers granted last year by OntarioPremier Doug Ford, community groups fought against the budget. The Shelter and Housing Justice Network, Health Providers Against Poverty, Another Toronto, TTCriders, and many others called out the grave injustices in the budget. They canvassed at TTC stations, held rallies, and shouted in the council chambers.

But Tory ploughed his way through.

To justify the increase in policing, Tory used the seeming sudden spike of violent attacks (take a closer look at that conversation on page 7). Tory and others chose fear and division over sound policy and community.

But why did Tory do it, aside from his long-standing affection for the police and disdain for opening enough warming centres to stop unhoused people from dying? Who supported his budget?

Notably, the Toronto Region Board of Trade, the city’s most powerful business lobby group, came out in favour. Made up of some of the biggest companies in town, the Board likes that the budget “focuses on key opportunities to bolster the Toronto region’s economy.” That’s corporate speak for them saying they like that the budget will help them make money.

The Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas (TABIA), mainly representing retail businesses, came out specifically in support of the increase to the police budget. Business Improvement Areas have a history of narrowly supporting policing to protect their property and profits.

Neither the Board of Trade nor TABIA made statements in support of more funding for warming centres for unhoused people.

Tory and those in his camp are aligned with business interests. We can expect that to continue, with more decisions to come that enforce human suffering.

But we drive forward. Our strength lies in the fact that while they undermine us, the power of the working class – from Little Jamaica to Peel and Scarborough and all across this city – has shown itself. When we get organized, we can stand up for each other.

We launched The Grind in October, and this issue, like the last two, shines a light on the good and the bad.

Yes, we’re going to be affected by this dumpster-fire budget and the black eye Tory has left on this city.

In part, that means we’ll be heading back to the polls in the spring for a mayoral election. A different person in that position, someone other than a Tory copycat, could actually shake things up. This issue also brings fresh perspectives and tips on how to weather the storm together.

And we’re excited to share an expanded event listings section, a sports page, comics, and horoscopes.

As Max Mertens tells us in his article about the city’s late-night party scene (page 16), there’s always a way to have fun and enjoy life, even while those in power take us for granted.

Tend to your loved ones. Stoke their fires of discontent. We will make this city ours.

This article appeared in the 2023 Feb/Mar issue.