by Hilary White

TORONTO, January 26, 2006 ( – Canada’s hard left-leaning mainstream media is drawing the lines of the political fight that will characterize the next few years with its flagship newspaper, the Toronto Star, leading the pack. The Star’s Royson James said, “It might be clear to party strategists that ignoring the urban agenda, or just paying lip service to it, won’t fly in the GTA.”
  The phrase, ‘urban agenda’ was quickly coined to imply that Conservative support comes largely from rural areas and that the party must pander to Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver’s small-l liberal proclivities on social issues like child care and gun control. The socially liberal attitudes exemplified by the Liberal party towards women, life and family issues, the military and tax relief have their greatest concentration of support in the Big Three urban centres.

Yesterday morning, Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty expressed his willingness to work with the Conservatives on the condition that they drop the $1200/per child annual credit payment plan and adopt the Liberal idea of a single, national childcare programme. McGuinty threatened that both the provincial government and the opposition parties were ready to fight the Conservatives’ child tax credit plan, a major plank of their campaign platform.
  Monte Solberg, a prominent member of Harper’s cadre of younger MP’s writing from his riding in Medicine Hat said, “Today I heard that our election win was actually a terrible election disaster because we didn’t win any seats in Toronto, Vancouver or Montreal. How could I have been so blind?”

With heavy irony, Solberg mocks the Big Three arrogance: “Sure it’s nice to win seats in places like Ottawa, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg or Quebec City. Its even okay I guess to win every seat in Alberta, but if you aren’t in TO and Van and Montreal what’s the point?”

ÂThe Toronto Star, however, has moved away from social issues in its editorials, saying that with no cabinet minister hailing from Toronto, the needs of the Big Three cities with their crumbling infrastructure, massive problems of overpriced housing and transportation, will be ignored.
  Solberg, the opposition Finance Critic and a shoo-in for a cabinet post, with heavy irony calls the Star’s bluff saying that it was under the last 12 years of all-Liberal representation that Toronto’s infrastructure was allowed to deteriorate. “There is no new waterfront development even though Toronto has about 50 Liberal MPs per square inch. There is also no new infrastructure. There is no new train. There is no new anything.”

“Apparently however it is a disaster if these big cities don’t have government MPs because then they won’t get their problems addressed. Oh…right…okay. Gotcha. Now that’s a compelling argument.”

The irony seems to be lost on Myer Siemiatycki, an urban politics professor at Ryerson University in Toronto, who told the Vancouver Sun, “The election results really do highlight a disconnect between the Conservative party of Mr. Harper and urban Canadians.”

Allegations of the Toronto-centric viewpoint could be understandable when reading Siemiatycki’s demand that Harper dump his platform and placate the newly identified urban agenda to gain the support of Canada’s majority of urban dwellers.

The Vancouver Sun pointed out, however, that Canada’s three largest cities are not Canada’s only cities. “Harper made gains in some cities winning all of Edmonton and Calgary and taking one seat from the Liberals in Winnipeg.”

Joe Katzman, author of Winds of Change, described as the “granddaddy” of conservative political blogs, said there is a long way to go developing the conservative movement in Canada as has been done in the US. Katzman wrote, “Frankly, Canada’s conservative party is a generation away from being a consistently sustainable political force – to become one, they’re going to have to develop their base of supportive organizations, talk radio, plugging into the think-tanks, etc.”
  Read Monte Solberg’s blog:

Read Toronto Star coverage:
  Read analysis from the Vancouver Sun: