This letter was sent to Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport, Michael Tibollo, and a copy was sent to Huntsville Doppler for publication.
I am writing you today concerning your government’s decision to cut funding to the Southern Ontario Library Service to the point that inter-library loans will no longer be possible for the libraries that compose this grouping.
This small program, within the province’s vast budget, punched way above its weight, especially in small-town Ontario. An ‘ILLO’, as it was sometimes called, could supply a local book club, could enhance the healthy concept of ‘Lifetime Learning’, could provide foreign language texts for new Canadians, or provide DVDs for those who could not afford big cable packages.
I am a non-fiction writer, and have produced three books on Canadian history (involving two Canada Council grants), published by Mosaic Press (Oakville). I am working on another history manuscript and, as I live in Huntsville, I rely on inter-library loans to help me do my research.
What your government is telling me is that if book-related research is important to my life, I should move to a large city and give up on rural Ontario.
Premier Ford’s world is centred on the GTA. His Escalade moves between Mississauga and Queen’s Park. I’m sure he has little concern for what this decision has done to rural Ontario, and to our libraries. He will factor in:
- This budget cut has a slight nuance of anti-intellectualism, which will appeal ‘Ford Nation’.
- He has shown he can ‘get tough’ on over-spending. (Huntsville’s Monday Night Book Club will just have to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and buy all the books they want to read.)
- By the time the next provincial election rolls around, people will have forgotten about this. And, the Tory Party will be handing out pork barrel goodies by then.
It is up to you, Mr. Minister, to convince Mr. Ford that he is making a big mistake. There are a lot of unhappy people in rural Ontario. Motivated people. The kind of people who vote. They will remember this contribution to ignorance and ill-spent time in our small towns. They will think of it every time they pass the local library.
Remember, Mike Harris did a lot of cutting, but he was from Northern Ontario and never touched this item.
I can guarantee you of one plank that the Liberals, NDP and Greens will all have in their platforms when the writ is next dropped in Ontario: Restore inter-library loans throughout the province.
S.R. “Sandy” Gage first got to know this area in 1956, when he stepped off the train, inside Algonquin Park, to go to summer camp. His book, A Few Rustic Huts, on the ranger cabins of Algonquin, was published in 1985. He and his wife have lived permanently around Huntsville since 2000.
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