Right-Wing Populism versus Right-Minded Policy

Photo by andrea musta | flickr.com

Mayor Rob Ford of Toronto, supposedly elected by a mandate to cut costs, has tried to infuse his ideologically right-wing politics and thinking into the process. Affecting the livelihood of thousands, he has cut back on services, jobs & several amenities that the GTA considers vital. But the latest move, where Mayor Ford is signalling his intention of scrapping Toronto’s five-cent plastic-bag ‘’tax’’ by the end of this year, proves to be irresponsible. It would not only hurt the city, but our surrounding environs as well.

His opposition is based on the ‘’small-government’’ ideology that has nothing to do with sound policy. Instead, if meritocracy were to prevail, this fee would’ve never faced any threat. When you take a closer look at it, the fee really isn’t a tax. Not one nickel raised through the tax goes into the city’s coffers, not to mention the fee is completely avoidable.

Plenty of alternatives exist out there when making a purchase; such as a reusable bag, a basket or a grocery bin. With some amount of effort, this fee can be easily avoided. The best part is that there is quite a lot of evidence that it is working in helping Torontonians make sensible choices. A survey group of grocery distributors estimated that the number of plastic bags issued in Toronto stores reduced by 70%! Sobeys and Loblaws saw a drastic 72-73% drop in plastic bag usage in the province and the country.

This kind of success is exactly what the Mayor wants to throw away, which is emblematic of his short-sightedness. Before the fee was instituted, Torontonians used some 460 million plastic bags per year!  A large percent of these ultimately end up choking our landfills or blow about in the city as litter.

Also, retailers like Sobeys don’t use the money to line their pockets, but to recycle it back into green causes such as the community environment fund that provides 50 organizations all over Ontario with more than $800,000 since 2009.

This plan to ban plastic bag taxes will increase litter, boost the needless manufacture of environmentally unfriendly bags and hurt charitable causes at the cost of gaining nothing but another wasteful habit that could’ve been easily prevented.