This Magazine

Progressive politics, ideas & culture


my crystal’s alright Jack

This Magazine Staff

Sleepy-eared this morning, I wasn’t sure if I was hearing right when William Thorsell, emperor of the Royal Ontario Musuem, was quoted on CBC radio slagging Toronto mayor David Miller’s request for a reasonable return on the sales tax monies collected in Canada’s largest city. Miller’s One Cent Now campaign has been big news lately (we sure do live in the era of politicians launching policy like it’s a product line, don’t we?).
Thorsell’s disagreement? The ROM didn’t get one cent from the City of Toronto to build its magnificent new crystal dangly thing on Bloor Street, so why should a large successful city like Toronto need part of the federal GST cache? The CBC tried bravely to hold this precarious mass of illogic together, like some sort of dangly crystal thing hanging over a sidewalk, by pointing out that Miller has put Toronto’s arts and culture front and centre in the campaign. That’s the connection. Miller speaks of arts and culture; Thorsell has proven that GST revenue is unnecessary for arts and culture… as long as you have incredibly rich donors who want their name on a crystal. It all makes sense now.
Say, didn’t Toronto build a subway station right in front of the ROM and name it Museum? Don’t Torontonians spend a whole bunch of money to bring themselves and their kids to the ROM? A family of four ordinary Torontonians can reasonably expect to drop $100 for a ROM experience (food and special exhibitions included) — that’s also including the $12 per kid rate. It’s probably not relevant here, but shouldn’t a large successful museum be able to afford itself without charging kids for admission?
Miller actually wants this money for all sorts of things, like improved transit and the fulfilment of climate change obligations, parks, shelter and housing, recycling, recreation facilities, libraries and so much more. Things most people can see — when their vision isn’t obscured by smog or gigantic dangly crystal things — are good for all the people who regularly pay (a lot of) money to go to the ROM.
I mean, if Thorsell can make pointless rhetorical linkages, why can’t we all?

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