Metro TTC Cartoon

Metro Cover Featuring Cartoon Editorial on TTC Fare Hike Sparks Controversy

An editorial cartoon by Michael De Adder on the cover of the November 18th issue of the Metro has got the head of the Toronto transit workers union all hot and bothered. According to Bob Kinnear, the cartoon, which depicts a streetcar operator picking the pocket of a pedestrian bystander, places the blame for the recently announced fare increase on front line TTC workers rather than the commission's management or insufficient government funding.

Kinnear is thus worried that it threatens the safety of his local 113 members, who already suffer increased instances of physical abuse in the wake of fare hike announcements. "It will provoke active animosity in some unbalanced passengers and lead to more assaults. We've been down this road too many times before to let this pass," he reasons.

But is it really that bad? And does it actually lay the blame for the fare increase on the TTC's streetcar operators and other highly visible staff?

Or, could it be that Kinnear doesn't understand the way synecdoche works?

While I agree that front line workers deserve no blame for fare hikes or other such developments at the TTC, I don't think the cartoon actually implies this. The streetcar operator strikes me as a symbol of the TTC in general. He's a part that represents the whole (and hence an example synecdoche). Only the most literal interpretation of the image could lead to the association of TTC operators with the rise in fares.

Kinnear does, however, make a decent point in saying that "the cartoon would have been more truthful if it had shown Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty and Prime Minister Stephen Harper picking the pockets of our passengers." But the reality is that regardless of the degree to which the TTC is or isn't funded by the provincial and federal governments, the decision to increase fares is ultimately theirs, which makes them the face of the issue. And when I conjure up an image of the TTC two things come to mind: shiny red streetcars and people in TTC uniforms.

So while Kinnear claims that he has "the right to strenuously object to a 'McPaper' like Metro distorting the truth at the expense of [his] members' safety," I can't help but think that De Adder accomplished his goal.

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