Toronto Star ramps up the casino war.

The Toronto Star has something against casinos. What started as a bias in news reporting is now a constant editorial diatribe. In a lengthy editorial Friday, the paper suggested that a vote on a new mayor of Toronto could include a referendum on a casino. The editorial suggested that a $7 million by-election for mayor could be justified by including this referendum. It is likely that the Star was a bit disappointed with the announcement by the court that Rob Ford could stay in office.

The only problem with the Star’s proposal is that a referendum on a casino would be meaningless. Nobody really cares if a majority of Torontonian’s want a casino or not. It is not their decision to make. Ontario Lottery and Gaming did say that they did not want to put a casino in a municipality that did not want one. They were just being polite. They can put casinos pretty well anywhere they want in Ontario.

Is it illegal to have a casino in Toronto? No it is not. That decision has already been made by the Province. Is it a zoning problem? If it does become a zoning problem, it has to be dealt with by city council—subject to being overturned by the Ontario Municipal Board. Sorry folks, the question as to whether you are for or against having a casino is irrelevant.

And frankly, after listening to and reading the comments of many hundreds of people who do not want a casino in their backyard, you find that the ignorance on the subject is appalling. This is like arguing over a neighbourhood restaurant in the plaza at the corner. If the Italian restaurant there has gone out of business, you do not get a vote on whether a Tex-Mex restaurant can move in. It makes no difference if Tex-Mex food gives you heartburn. You do not have to go to that restaurant.

You probably feel that you are very lucky to live in our democracy. That does not mean that the majority can tell everyone else what they can or cannot do. Democracy means that the people rule but they rule best by respecting the rights of others. Our Charter of Rights makes that point well. The Toronto Star editorial people need to catch up on it.

We fondly remember the days when the Toronto Star was the voice of liberalism in Toronto. It cared about people. It cared about the important issues. It stood up for individual rights. It fought bigotry. It mattered.

Today the Toronto Star appears to be just another cog in an unfeeling corporate machine. It seems it is nothing but a profit centre in a rough, tough media world. It certainly needs better editorial direction. The Star used to be a pretty good newspaper.

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Copyright 2013 © Peter Lowry

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