The possibility of Toronto becoming a province has popped up in the news again. The idea has floated around for years, supported by a variety of civic thinkers including the urban guru Jane Jacobs.
The idea has considerable merit and not only for Toronto. Under our Constitution, cities are creatures of the provinces, to be dealt with as provincial politicians see fit. This may have been reasonable when we
were a rural country, but we have become an urban country, and it's time
to reverse the relationship. A good start would be transforming our
major cities into provinces. They are, after all, the centres of
cultural and economic activity and should therefore be the centres of
Calgary's mayor, Naheed Nenshi, a vocal advocate for Canadian cities, has been talking a lot about the need for more sources of revenue for cities, emphasizing that their
growing costs drastically outpace their property tax revenues. “I’m the mayor of a city that has more people in it than five provinces," he points out,
"yet I have the exact same legislative authority as any village of 30 or
40 people. And that has to change.”
Indeed it does. And if he starts promoting the provincial option as the agent of that change, he will get my support.