To recap, the provincial government of Ontario has just spent almost $1.3 million to hand out groceries to people who lost power during an ice storm. Some random thoughts:
- If it's the middle of winter and you lose power, presumably your home would be approximately the temperature of a refrigerator. Not to make light of the problems endured by the people who lived in the affected area, but is lack of refrigeration a huge problem in December? Can't people figure out how to keep food from spoiling in the middle of winter?
- Shit happens during natural disasters - that's why people buy insurance. If you lost a bunch of expensive food, make an insurance claim. If you don't have insurance, use the money you saved on premiums to buy your own damned groceries. I didn't expect the government to replace my water pipes when they froze during a cold snap a few years ago - I fixed them myself and had insurance for repairs that were beyond my immediate means. It was a power outage, for heaven's sake - not Hurricane Katrina.
- I find it reprehensible that Premier Kathleen Wynne used the ice storm as an excuse to grab a little publicity for herself. She and her entourage arrived in the "devastated" area, TV cameras in tow, handing out baskets of food like Good King Wenceslas to carefully pre-screened Liberal-supporting households so that she could be seen acting like a leader on the six o'clock news. Disgraceful.
- You'd think that the opposition Conservatives would be up in arms about the waste of money in this grocery-card fiasco, but no; they're lining up at the trough with the NDP and the Liberals. PC MPP Lisa McLeod complained that people outside of Toronto didn't have access to "free" groceries: "The political way that this has been handled by Premier Wynne and her cabinet has prevented people from equal access to a program that she initiated", she said. Tory MPP Michael Harris also complained that people in his riding of Kitchener-Conestoga West weren't getting free stuff like everyone in Toronto: "My office has been bombarded with phone calls recently in terms of how to access this program and they've been getting the runaround. They're questioning really why this program was only available in Toronto and not in their communities when they too went without power for a significant amount of time." Ugh.
- What's the matter with Toronto? Why aren't people there able to cope with an ice storm without screaming at the Mayor to declare a state of emergency, debating whether or not to call in the army, standing around in front of TV cameras wringing their hands about the slow pace of the cleanup in their suburban neighbourhoods and generally waiting for "the Government" to do something while complaining constantly? In 1998 much of Eastern Ontario was crippled by an epic ice storm which took out electricity for days - people in tiny inaccessible communities pulled together and helped clear each other's laneways, took each other in and generally coped until power was restored. It's what people used to be able to do without being told. And by the way, nobody begged the government for free groceries.
The Toronto ice storm has brought out the worst in people - venal politicians who viewed the event as an opportunity for self-aggrandizing photo ops while throwing around taxpayer's money willy nilly, and helpless dependent citizens who couldn't figure out what to do without a massive bureaucratic swat team to lead them. God help us if a truly serious natural disaster occurs.