The consequences of Toronto city cuts for youth

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Here's one dirty word you can call me, Mammoliti. Call me motha. You, too, Ford brothas. It's about time we started to talk family, because you're not just messing with the grown-ups when you tear all civility and grace from Toronto's public sphere.

The KPMG report you're studying for surgical guidance documents every place where the city offers any degree of excellence or innovation. These are highlighted as "opportunities" for the knife. How's that for a subliminal message to the kiddies? Let's gang up on the best and brightest.

This is perhaps too subtle for the mayor, but if you check out news from across the pond you can see it's time we paid attention to the subliminal messages in our urban culture fashions.

Ford's dysfunctional political fam has probably been too busy figuring out how to slice the flesh off our already thin metropolis to have noticed that last week in the U.K., thousands of angry, urban (and suburban) kids took their power in the way they know how -- a destructive rage on their neighbourhoods.

Any parent or former child can tell you: young humans have needs. They have wants, too. But the needs are not a choice or a spoiled whim. I know the mayor knows that kids need sports. At least some do. And for them, sports are crucial in a way that goes beyond words or politics. For others it's dance. Or art. Or making stuff. Or building things. We all need an opportunity to partake in some form of expression. That's part of the weird and inscrutable process called life as civilized humans. Without that, things get ugly.

This year the streets have made a lot of history. In Tunisia and Egypt, young people have given expression to peaceful sentiments powerful enough to depose dictators. In the U.K., expressionless youth have risen to burn and loot and ravage.

This fall, when city council votes, councillors in the mushy middle will choose what message we ingrain in the souls of the next generation. They will have to take a stand either with Ford or against him, and that will make all the difference. They must know there will be consequences if they forsake the children.

We need to gather in numbers and voice the needs of the youngest among us or we will surely pass our wordless frustration to a next generation who will have nothing but rage to show for our actions.

This article was first published in NOW Magazine.

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