On playing politics with peoples’ lives

Ice storm

The lights in much of Toronto went out last Sunday morning; we spent one night in the dark and actually it was quite fun, playing cards by candlelight and getting under 12 layers of duvets and blankets. I was able to go to my son’s apartment a block south of us and work on Monday morning; I came home around noon to drain the plumbing and radiators and found that we had power back. So much for that.

For my 82 year old mother-in-law it was not so much fun.

Kelly drove out to visit her on Monday morning, bring her some warm food. She said she was fine. But by Monday evening she asked for help. We drove out there past downed trees and wires, crushed cars and entire neighbourhoods dark. We got her into the car (not easy, she can barely walk) and while Kelly was driving us home I just got angrier and angrier that our Mayor did not consider this an emergency. Under the rules that stripped him of much of his power, had he declared an emergency all of his authority would have gone to the deputy mayor so he wouldn’t do it.  I tweeted:

Just rescued frozen mother in law and curse Rob Ford for calling this an “inconvenience.” This is a disaster.

Then all hell broke loose as a radio station picked up my tweet. I was evidently heartless and irresponsible:

why did you leave her until she was almost frozen? Should have gotten her sooner. What is wrong with you???

There was no point in responding that we had no power either and our road was closed do to fallen trees. And then a former city councillor took me on:

Disaster “A calamitous event especially one occurrig suddenly and causing great loss of life.” ur kidding right

No Chris Stockwell, I am not kidding you. There are people out there freezing, people who have died of carbon monoxide poisoning, my daughter still isn’t back into her apartment and we have lost 20% of our tree canopy. Much of the disaster can be blamed at the feet of people like you who had the chance to bury wiring 15 years ago when the city upgraded the whole system, but didn’t want to pay the price; or those who cut the tree pruning budget last year to save money.

You can’t build a resilient city on the cheap. You can’t play politics with people’s lives. We all deserve better than this.

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