Has the megalithic GTA become a tipping point for action by the rest of the province?

toronty skylineOPINION by MATT McEACHRAN

Did you know Toronto’s population is projected to be 9 million people in just over 20 years?

Startling but true, according to Ontario Ministry of Finance projections.

Over 100,000 people move into the GTA annually.  That’s almost the entire population of Sarnia Lambton moving to “Toronto” every year.

Over half the province will live in the GTA in just two decades.

Meanwhile the “rest of Ontario” has a population that is declining, or stagnating at best.

What’s the point of all these population statistics?  Oh nothing . . . nothing the last two provincial elections didn’t already show us.

Now that another Ontario election is in the books, and the dust has settled from the pundits analysis of the results, the one perspective I didn’t see constantly being rehashed in the media was population growth and what this means for the suckers . . .  er ahem, I mean “equal partners” that live in the rest of Ontario.

It’s the story they don’t want to talk about.

Take a look at the last two election maps.  You’ll see shocking similarities.  Well not shocking really, because we have known every day for the past many, many years that we have a government that doesn’t represent us.

Northern Ontario is mostly bright orange (a little red thrown in around Thunder Bay for pizazz), southern Ontario is awash in blue, with an orange tip in Windsor and a splotch of red in Ottawa and the centre of the Universe.

Take a look.  Take a close look.  Those small red splotches control this massive province.

And don’t get me wrong. This isn’t a Liberal issue (although they have certainly enflamed the issue like no one else); it’s a “party” issue—as in any party that wants power will have to continue to cater to Toronto.

Surely even rural Liberals can look at that map and recognize that when you have such a vast space controlled by such a small splotch of red, things aren’t good.

Things aren’t good at all.  And as the demographics show, it’s only going to get worse.

What’s obvious with the election map is the massive rural/urban split.  It screams at us.

Now of course all the people in Toronto rightly point out that our land mass doesn’t make us better than them.  They have the right to control the government since they have the most votes.  And they’re right.

But look at the map and realize how insignificant the GTA is compared to the size of Ontario.  How could a metropolitan area that small, possibly understand life in the rest of the massive province?  An area so vast and a lifestyle so different, can they really understand life In Sarnia Lambton?  Timmins?  Kenora?

Can they really understand what it feels like for the small business owner whose sales are now decimated because the major industry in town has been forced to close by Kathleen Wynne’s steady hands?

Can Toronto really know what it’s like for the families trying to survive who have just been laid off from Hiawatha, or the Lambton Generating Station?  Or the hundreds of thousands of other rural Ontarians who have lost their jobs on the Liberals watch, often because of Liberal policy?

Can Toronto understand what it’s like for the families that have to say good bye to their mom or dad for weeks at a time because they now have to work in Alberta?

Can they understand what it’s like to pay over $100 to put gas in your pick-up truck?

The economy is in the tank in many rural towns, and it’s not booming anywhere in this province.   Except Toronto.

Ontario is now supported by Saskatchewan and Newfoundland, for crying out loud.  Do Toronto voters understand that?

Apparently I’m not the only one who feels this way.  Judging by that election map, nearly every part of the rest of Ontario feels the governing party doesn’t represent them.

Yet here we are with a Toronto majority government.

And with the population swing in full force, the draining of rural Ontario into the GTA, the question now is have we hit a tipping point?

Has the GTA grown so big and have so many votes that the rest of Ontario votes will never matter again?

The short answer is it looks that way.

But for the millions of people that live in and love the rest of Ontario, we happen to think we still matter.  If Toronto doesn’t want us, then maybe it’s time to look at going our own way.   After all, new provinces are not only a Canadian tradition, but the reasonable thing to do when populations and cultures change.

Or we can prove the Toronto politicians right and show them how insignificant we really are by staying put and letting them run right over us, while we beg for scraps from the Provincial table.

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