The Imperial Capital meets it's fiercest foe:
Toronto’s former mayor has rubbed shoulders with accused drug dealers and faced police scrutiny without flinching, but even Rob Ford says he’s scared to run into the city’s most notorious residents: raccoons.
Ford, now a city councillor, described nerve-racking nighttime “standoffs” with the crafty critters last summer, urging officials to tackle what he called a severe raccoon problem.
His successor, Mayor John Tory, recently took up the war on so-called Raccoon Nation, unveiling new green bins meant to keep out the wily marauders and declaring that “defeat is not an option.”
We shall fight them near the Green Bins! We shall fight them in The Annex! We Shall Never Surrender!
It's stories like this that define Toronto to the rest of the Dominion: A strange smug place absorbed by "problems" that could be easily resolved by the application of common sense. If you read the news coverage of Toronto's "Raccoon Wars" you'd think it was a replay of the Battle of Stalingrad sans the whimsy. An intractable problem that was spawned commissions, reports and an endless flow of punditry. In truth it is a textbook example of how simple things become complicated when pseudo-intellectuals are given power.
Those who live in the saner parts of Canada might wonder how exactly Toronto acquired this grave and pressing problem. Did packs of raccoons drift north from the States? Has Global Warming lead to a jump in the raccoon population? Is there something about Toronto garbage that functions like a raccoon aphrodisiac? Perhaps there's a Hog Town Viagra that's been mixed in with the hose water.
The short answer is Disney. The long answer is environmentalism. Combined together they form a potent combination of scientific ignorance, Greenista themed sentimentality and bureaucratic idiocy. To see this magical interplay we need only harken back to this news story from 2013:
The raccoon saga of Dong Nguyen finally ended Tuesday.
Nguyen, 55, pleaded guilty at Old City Hall court to beating three baby raccoons with a shovel, probably killing one and breaking another’s foreleg, because they were destroying his garden in 2011.
He had made 19 court appearances before the Crown and his defence lawyer Peter Scully struck a deal by which a dangerous weapons charge was withdrawn and he received a conditional discharge on the charge of cruelty to animals.
In Toronto, if you attack a family of raccoons, a shovel becomes a "dangerous weapon" that requires 19 court appearances. There are many living breathing humans in Toronto that receive less legal protection that raccoons. That's not an exaggeration. The life of a Toronto vagrant is in journalistic and political terms worth far less than a raccoon. After all racoons are cute!
Just so you don't go away with the impression that only our city officials are crazy, here's a quote to confirm that our judges are too:
Scully and the Crown suggested 40 hours of community service, but Justice Marvin Zuker bumped it to 100.
“It’s just plain ignorant to kill defenceless baby raccoons,” said Zuker. “This man should work with animals for 100 hours to gain empathy toward defenceless creatures who cannot respond except for in pain.”
OK. How about defenceless baby rats? Or termites? Or pigs? Or cows? If members of the bench are now skipping the old common law stuff and are instead using PETA press releases as precedent, why stop at raccoons? I mean when was the last time a judge upped the Crown's recommended sentence for a rape or murder conviction? Perhaps Mr Nguyen would have gotten off more lightly if he'd talked about his rotten childhood and how a pack of raccoons killed his mother.
Now here is where things get really zany. Not being able to kill overgrown rodents is one thing, but surely you can move them somewhere else? Well sort of.
Pest control companies may trap raccoons but can’t relocate them more than one kilometre away, which means they’ll be right back, MacDonald said.
My first reaction was to check to see if any of these pest control companies are publicly traded. Next I began summoning up images of pest control executives and animal rights activists sitting in backrooms lobbying for ever more absurd pro-raccoon by-laws. I'd normally assume that this is a brilliant scam but I honestly don't believe the raccoon sentimentalists are smart enough.
To grasp the mentality behind this "defeatist" approach to raccoon management here is a quote from one of the pro-raccoon activists:
“The goal should be to reduce conflict,” she said. “So don’t beat them with shovels.”
A civilization that lacks the moral courage to face down small woodland animals is not long for this world. The phrasing, I have to admit, is utterly perfect: "The goal should be to reduce conflict." As if Toronto's neighbourhoods were the Gaza Strip and the raccoons were members of Hamas. Perhaps it's about our Eurocentric values that prize disease free cities over unfettered raccoon habitat.
Knowing our rubber-spine mayor I can easily imagine John Tory pulling a Neville Chamberlain in the Raccoon Wars. Instead of Czechoslovakia Tory would hand over Scarborough to the Raccoon High Command, or at the very least to one of David Suzuki's less distinguished children.
Speaking of World War Two analogies this week is the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Netherlands. In a single human life time Canadians have gone from beating the Waffen SS to losing control of their largest city to raccoons. It'll be a puzzle for future historians you can be sure of that.