Any Government out there that would Cut Funding to Public Libraries has Absolutely No Concept of the Common Good
“Whatever the cost of our libraries, the price is cheap compared to that of an ignorant nation.” — the legendary television and radio news broadcaster Walter Cronkite
A Commentary by Doug Draper
Posted April 24th, 2019 on Niagara At Large
And Ontario Premier Doug Ford and his Tory Party lapdogs out there call themselves a “Government for the People”?
What people are they talking about?
It’s bad enough that they have been slashing funding for municipal transit services, environmental protection, health care and public education, and rolling back social assistance for people living in poverty, along with plans by the previous government to increase the minimum wage so that people at the lowest end of the salary ladder can one day have a livable wage.
Now they are cutting funding for public libraries across the province, for God’s sake.
They can’t even leave our public libraries alone.
I first heard about a week ago that cuts to public libraries were hidden somewhere in the bowels of the Ford government’s April 11th’s budget, but there were so many other items of concern pouring out of what this will do to host of services important to people in Niagara and other parts of Ontario, that it was hard for a journalist in a world where news reporting resources are scarce too to keep up.
But I can’t let this library cut go because it is going to hurt people who want to use libraries to better themselves in the intelligence department – especially people in rural and smaller communities where the cuts that a reduction in funds to inter-libary loan services may hurt libraries in those communities the most.
Of course, people wanting to use public libraries to better themselves in the intelligence department may not mean much to Doug Ford. After all, if a first-year college drop-out like him can become premier of Ontario, how much in the way of learning do you need?
And as disgusting as this cut to public libraries is to what I hope are many of us out here, it should not coming as a shock considering Ford’s past record.
Back in 2011, when Ford was a Toronto city councillor and his late brother Rob was mayor of that same city, they moved to cut funding for public libraries there. When citizens in Toronto, including world renowned author Margaret Atwood, protested the planned cuts, one of Rob Ford’s replies included the following words; “I don’t even know (Margaret Atwood). If she walked by me, I wouldn’t have a clue who she is.”
Rob made this comment about Atwood, as if he was proud to admit he didn’t have a clue who she is, and his brother Doug, who was always they to ride shotgun for him, backed him up all the way.
Of course, they might know who the author of one of the world’s greatest selling books, The Handmaid’s Tale, was if they used libraries, but I doubt either one of them ever did. And I doubt Doug Ford does to this day.
You know who I see using the public library in the community where I live in Niagara?
I see people who can’t afford computers linked to the internet in their homes, using the ones in the library to search for employment opportunities or to do research for courses they are taking to better their lives. I see children sitting in reading circles and seniors in book clubs getting together to share what they have learned.
I see people going in to borrow books to read that some of the rest of us are fortunate enough to be able to go to a book store and buy. Or they may simply be people who prefer to borrow books rather than buy every book they may want to read.
And on and on.
Public libraries are a classic ‘common good’ service that has been there for people in civilized countries going back thousands of years before Ford and his party came along with their buck-a-beer and their idea to start serving booze at local drinking holes at nine o’clock in the morning.
So shame on this self-described “Government for the People” for cutting at least $1.5 million alone for key services offered by public libraries in southern regions of Ontario.
That may not seem like a great deal of money (making it all the more shameful that that Ford and his party lap dogs would go out of their way to cut it out of a multi-billion-dollar budget) but it means a great deal to libraries that manage to get by on pretty modest means as it is.
Here’s an idea.
If Ford wants to cut a few more million dollars out of the provincial budget, instead of going after public libraries, how about cutting back on the number of MPPs in the province?
Why not start by cutting the number of ministers in his cabinet? And the ones who are left drive back and forth to work in their own damn cars instead of using vehicles paid for by the state?
While, they are at it, how about dropping that political show case he and his Tory buddies out west want to take to court against what they call the federal government’s “carbon tax.” What that is going to cost in lawyers and court time alone, would probably build a few libraries in those rural communities Ford claims he cares so much about.
This cut to Ontario’s public libraries is a disgrace and citizens across this region and provincec should contact their MPPs and the Office of Ontario’s Premier’ and raise hell about it.
The only Doug Ford MPP we have in the Niagara region to complain to is Niagara West MPP Sam Oosterhoff, so let me help by giving you his contact information –
Oosterhoff’s Constituency Office address – Unit M1, 4961 King St. E, Beamsville, ON L0R 1B0 Email – firstname.lastname@example.org , Tel 905-563-1755, Fax 905-563-1317
Some of you may remember that in 2011, while he was a member of Toronto city council, Doug Ford was quoted on a radio program saying; “I have more libraries in my area than I have Tim Hortons.”
Just the kind of Trumpy nonsense that would have someone with the mind of Homer Simpson while he is saddled up at the bar, rolling in laughter as he’s slugging back his one-buck beer at 9 o’clock in the morning.
To think we have three more years to put up with this government?
Who out there voted for these people?
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