A Torontonian’s reply to M.P. Scheer from Regina

By Wednesday, March 16, 2016 0 Permalink 0

Dear Mr. Scheer,

I was surprised to see you, a member of parliament from Regina, speak with such authority on the issue of jets at the Toronto Island Airport in the Canadian Parliament recently. To be specific, you declared that the MP from Spadina-York, Adam Vaughan, “cares passionately about this because he represents a lot of very rich condo-dwellers in downtown Toronto who do not want the inconvenience of jets landing and spoiling their waterfront view as they wake up in the morning and drink their fancy coffee.”

Your comments are so ignorant and mean-spirited that it’s hard to know where to begin.

The Island Airport and the city

           The Island Airport and the city

First of all: I am a Torontonian. I live nowhere near the Island Airport. I am not rich. I do not live on the waterfront. Yet like countless others, I vigorously oppose any further expansion of the Toronto Island Airport. Why? Because, in contrast to your […] comments, Toronto’s waterfront, and the Toronto Islands, are where regular Torontonians – the ones who cannot afford cottages, holiday homes and expensive vacations – go to enjoy nature, and get away from the noise and pollution of Canada’s largest city.  The waterfront belongs to ALL TORONTONIANS and is, in fact, the city’s only significant natural beauty.  That is the whole bloody point of this struggle. If you don’t “get” this, you should not be pronouncing and posturing on this issue.

As to your sneering remarks about rich condo-dwellers: what does it matter how much or little people paid for their condo? The point is that anyone who bought a condo on the waterfront did so knowing that all three levels of government had committed to creating a “clean, green waterfront.” It was immoral of the federal government to betray that by allowing the airport to expand even to its present level of activity, which produces noise and chemical pollution beyond anything that should be allowed near schools or residences. And Mr. Scheer, as you will know if you have stopped sneering long enough to do your homework, epidemiological maps show that the area surrounding the Island Airport is a hot spot for airport-related cancers.  Most of the people most seriously affected by this live in [community] housing near the airport. We are not talking about people getting a few more colds per year, Mr. Scheer. We are talking about people dying young because of this airport you and your Conservative pals love so much. [http://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2013/hl/bgrd/backgroundfile-64222.pdf]

Your remark about waking up and drinking expensive coffee is particularly offensive, and not just because it is no business of yours what kind of coffee someone drinks. For those who live near the Island Airport, normal sleep – the kind we need to stay healthy – is impossible, due to early morning and late night flights, and early morning engine maintenance at horrendous volumes. Nor can they sip anything on their balconies, which are coated with toxic residue from airline fuel, and so subject to airplane noise that conversation and even thought are impossible.

In short, please spare us the tired cliches of Toronto-bashing, Mr. Scheer. And stop trying to speak for a constituency you don’t know from a certain famously difficult-to-view orifice. If you are in Toronto this summer, I suggest you spend some time on the central waterfront. I suggest that you join the diverse, enthusiastic audience at one of the free concerts at the Toronto Music Garden – a world-famous park on the waterfront across from the Island Airport – on a day when it is downwind from the Island Airport. You will see how harmoniously the noise of airplanes blends with the music of a string quartet or sitar, and enjoy the fragrance of jet fuel mingling with the scents of the garden.

Yours truly,
Tamara Bernstein
Parkdale-High Park Constituency, Toronto

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