It is always a bittersweet time when the Canadian National Exhibition – a biosphere of the bizarre, beggarly, and beguiling – returns to Toronto.
On one hand, a unique five-coupon slice of life is back in town. On the flip side, the arrival of “the Ex” heralds the unofficial end of an always too-short summer.
Oh sure, Toronto has a world class amusement park just north of its city limits — that would be Canada’s Wonderland in Vaughan.
The rides are bigger and better at Wonderland and there’s plenty of parking. Still, the Ex exists — as it has for more than a century — as a wonderful, haphazard hodgepodge of buildings, attractions and characters.
But why is it that for the second year in a row the Ex has been extinguished?
Why has Mayor John Tory morphed into the Grinch who stole CNE?
After all, Canada’s Wonderland has been operating for several weeks now. And just down the boulevard, the Toronto Blue Jays are playing at the old SkyDome thanks to being granted a “national interest exemption”.
Well, here is the explanation from City of a Toronto spokesman Brad Ross:
“At the time the decision was made to cancel this year’s CNE, case counts remained high and no one could be certain what vaccination rates may have been come August. The CNE requires long lead times for planning and securing contracts; having to potentially, then, cancel those contracts would have been costly. The prudent and safest thing to do was to cancel this year’s fair. Restrictions to large gatherings do remain in Ontario to help stop the spread of COVID-19 and ongoing public health measures to do will allows us all to get back to normal more quickly.”
So there you have. Once again, the testicular-challenged Tory is too terrified of the COVID boogeyman, and is thus too afraid of taking a very low-risk chance... and in the process, once again cheats Torontonians out of a beloved end-of-summer tradition. Shame.