Before Mike Harris
and his Ontario
government forcibly amalgamated the cities of Toronto
, this was the name for the two-tier municipal government.
A creation of a much earlier generation of Ontario Progressive Conservatives in the mid-1950's, it was a vehicle to drive the development of what became known as the Toronto-centered region. It brought under an upper level region-wide services, such as trunk sewer and water mains, principal streets, public transit system--the TTC--Police, but not at first the Fire Department, and a few others.
The lower, or city level carried on more local things, such as schools, welfare, fire, electricity boards, zoning, etc.
It was the city of Toronto that began the building of the first subway in the region; it was Metro-Toronto that opened it.
This form was much admired throughout the world and, apparently, was the model for municipal goverance in many places.
The political economy, or geopolitics was to diffuse the political power of a region that neither then, nor now, has ever been a strong supporter of tories, and is now the most densely populated area in Canada--and always was the most populous part of Ontario. It was a way to box the actual city of Toronto inside more suburban municipalities, and direct the resources of the entire region towards the development of the areas north, east, and west of the true city.
For generations, battles on the metropolitan-level council were waged between representatives of the city, and those of what were then known as boroughs, with the balance of power always swaying in the direction the provincial government determined. For many years, the chief executive of the metro council was an unelected, chairman, appointed by the provincial cabinet--who was rarely from the city.
In recent years this had changed, but only after the balance of power had decisively shifted to the 'burbs. The current mayor of the amalgamated city of Toronto, crazy Mel Lastman, was for many years the flamboyant mayor of the city to the north of Toronto--North York.
It is clear even now, the interests of those who live in the core of what is now known as the city of Toronto are dimly, if at all recognized by the powers that be. How could they be? The problems of tenants, the homeless, immigrants, poverty, old schools, welfare, while not unheard of outside of the city core, are not as acute as downtown.
Renewal, and redevelopment is never as easy, nor as profitable, as building anew--and the corporate interests they serve, what few they do, are not those that support tories. The city may be new, but the political economy is as old as the hills.