There’s a political slur that can be slung, usually to beef up the slinger’s populist cred, in order to denigrate an opponent. Career politician. A trough feeder. A sucker of the public teat. Only in it for themselves.
Some politicians will accuse other politicians of being career politicians. Councillor Doug Ford likes to toss it around in defense of his brother the mayor, a guy who’s been at City Hall for coming on 14 years now. Nearly a third of his life.
The term must have some perceived impact with enough of the voting public to be useful to the politicians using it. Yet, when all is said and done, we sure do love our incumbents. Given every opportunity to throw the bums out, more often than not, we stay with the tried and true. Change is risky. It could turn out worse. The devil you know, and all that.
Look at our current race for mayor here in Toronto. The designated front runners include the above-mentioned mayor, a councillor who’s been in office for a decade now, another candidate’s been flirting off and on with political office for ten years and a former city councillor and budget chief out of the game for eight years. If this gaggle doesn’t represent career politicians, then the term is utterly meaningless.
In all likelihood, these are going to be the candidates we’re talking about well into the fall, leading up to the 0ctober 27th election. If any unknown challenger tosses their hat into the ring, a political outsider that apparently voters so love, they’re pretty much going to immediately be considered fringe. The unfortunate but necessary detritus of a free and open election process.
You got $200? Step right up and register. Nobody’s going to pay you much heed, though. Thanks for coming out.
Yeah, I know. Everybody rolls their eyes, shrugs their shoulders and automatically writes her off as a novelty candidate. Come on. She’s 18. What could she possibly know about running a city?
And just like that, we dismiss the outsider and jettison our demand for change. We talk a big game about term limits and new blood but when the chips are down? Fingers crossed! Let’s hope John Tory runs again.
Listening to Ms. Baskin’s radio interview last week, she came across as articulate, passionate and pretty tuned in to what’s been going on in the city. While her embryonic website is full of broad stroke ideals and a little short on details right now, it is still only March and is hardly out of place with many of the other mayoral candidates’ on-line efforts so far. I mean, have you taken a look at Mayor Ford’s re-election website?
You get the feeling that if Morgan Baskin was subject to a weekend municipal governance and policy boot camp, she would be right at home with the current front runners. Arguably, she’s already capable of keeping up with the non-Soknackian pap coming from all the other big names. I mean, I haven’t heard her say anything resembling Growing A Better Tomorrow yet, have you?
During the last municipal campaign in 2010, we here at All Fired Up in the Big Smoke spent much time covering the “other” mayoral candidates. In fact, one of us ended up endorsing Himy Syed. Trust us, there are plenty out there fully deserving of the fringe label. There’s no discernible reason why they’re in the race other than vying for whatever public attention they receive. Public attention they wouldn’t get otherwise.
Still, who am I to judge their motivations?
Again this time around, amidst all the truly eyebrow raising candidates in the race, there are a couple, in addition to Morgan Baskin, who deserve more than a cursory glance. Robb Johannes made a very good impression at a Scarborough mayoral forum in February. Matt Mernagh seems to be more dimensional than just a medical marijuana advocate. Richard Underhill has a very thorough and thoughtful campaign platform at this early stage of the race.
All of these candidates, I’d have to ask why their interest in civic affairs starts at the top job. It is a complex position, the 6th largest government in the country, overseeing an institution that delivers services and programs to over 2.5 million people. Why would we possibly trust you to manage a $14 billion annual budget? Babysitting money’s cute but maybe you could explain to me that nature of debt servicing, and the trade-off between less money for stuff now and having more stuff later.
That said, we gleefully handed the keys to the mayor’s office to a man-child based on 10 years of spotty city councillor performance and a vague attachment to a family business. How’d that work out for us?
We love the concept of political newcomers in theory but seem to shrink from acting on it when we ultimately mark our ballots. All talk, no action. If we were really serious, we’d at least hear the neophytes and fringe candidates out and give them significant consideration before retreating back to known territory. At the very least, we’d modify what we mean by being on the fringe.
– outsiderly submitted by Cityslikr