People in glass houses

Margaret Atwood doesn’t need my help. Last I saw, there were 27,000 people who’d signed up to support her fight to keep Toronto library branches open. The battle was launched by Doug Ford, the mayor’s brother and alleged brains of the family, sounding off about how there were too many library branches. When Atwood protested, he said, “I don’t even know her. If she walked by me, I wouldn’t have a clue who she is.” What a silly man.

The Toronto Public Library system is a wonderful resource and among the best-used in North America. I take out dozens of books a year and regularly visit the Metro Research Library to ferret data on companies that’s available nowhere else. All companies have filed financial and other information electronically to the Ontario Securities Commission (OSC) since 1997. Before that, everything is available only on microfiche. I find the setup at the OSC antediluvian. Over the years, the Metro Research Library has never let me down. I’ve been there twice in the last month, found what I needed, and printed out documents in a few minutes.

Doug Ford might want to look under his own nose. I happened to visit the Etobicoke Civic Centre today, home to municipal government in the west end. There’s no one to ask for directions so I did a lot of hall wandering before I finally stumbled upon the department I wanted. On the meander I saw three large and empty meeting rooms, a large and empty training centre, numerous empty offices, and a lot of unattended desks. The only inhabited space was the cafeteria. Everybody can’t be on holidays or out meeting taxpayers.

Before the Ford brothers close libraries that are actually used and popular, they might want to look at their own city buildings, particularly in Etobicoke, the place they call home. From what I saw today, they don’t sure don’t need the spacious surroundings they’ve got.

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