2011 Villain: Matthew McGuire and the Toronto Taxpayers Coalition
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2011 Villain: Matthew McGuire and the Toronto Taxpayers Coalition

Nominated for: being a one-man show that claims to represent the interests of the city's taxpayers.

Torontoist is ending the year by naming our Heroes and Villains—the very best and very worst people, places, things, and ideas that have had an influence on the city over the past twelve months. From December 12–23, the candidates for Mightiest and Meanest—and new this year, a reader’s write-in option! From December 26–29 you’ll be able to vote for Toronto’s Superhero and Supervillain of the year, and we’ll reveal the results December 30.

Do Toronto taxpayers need a voice? Yes. But that voice cannot come from just one man with a one-sided view of the issues.

Matthew McGuire started the Toronto Taxpayers Coalition in 2010 and this year it seemed to be everywhere, frequently quoted by the media on a wide variety of topics. The coalition’s website likes to claim that it is non-partisan and “independent of any institutional or partisan affiliations.” Yet, strangely, it toes the Ford line at almost every turn. The coalition is for private garbage collection and lower taxes and against the municipal Land Transfer Tax and council “spending sprees.”

Days after Margaret Atwood launched a contest for library support, with the prize being lunch with a writer, another contest was launched to dine with Doug Ford or Sun News personalities Sue-Ann Levy, Ezra Levant, or Michael Coren. And who was the mastermind behind an event that seemed to ridicule Atwood’s efforts? McGuire and the Toronto Taxpayers Coalition. Maureen O’Reilly, the Toronto Public Library workers’ union president, told the Globe and Mail that the coalition made a mockery of the library contest and it was absurd that they launched it with all the same elements.

But here’s the thing that could be seen as most villainous—as far as anybody’s been able to tell, it is just McGuire who is behind it all. He is the president, founder, and spokesman for the coalition. McGuire claims there are a few hundred members. But of the more than 30 media appearances listed on their website, the only person that has spoken for or is publicly associated with the coalition is McGuire. Could this be a one-man coalition?

The so-called-coalition released a report card on city council in late November. Left-leaning councillors, such as Adam Vaughan (Ward 20, Trinity-Spadina) and Mike Layton (Ward 19, Trinity-Spadina), received Fs while the conservative ones aced the year (surprisingly, Rob Ford received a B for some bad behaviour). The issue is, what weight does one person’s evaluation of council have, especially when that person says they are the views of a whole coalition?

McGuire (and the coalition, if there is one) is obviously a partisan group. He endorses conservative politics and also has developed three conservative websites. By being dishonest about its motives and falsely claiming to represent all Toronto taxpayers, we have pegged the Toronto Taxpayers Coalition (a.k.a. Matthew McGuire) as a villain.