Jaded, cynical adult me turns and gives wide-eyed, naïve me a withering look.
“You’re fucking kidding me, right?”
This is a thing that happens, early on in the process most days. An ongoing battle between my cheery ingenuousness and the hardened pessimism about what passes as politics in these parts. Lately, it’s been a one-sided affair, and not in favour of the good guy.
“So who’s disappointed you this morning?” meany me asks.
Well, for starters, John Tory called a transit related press conference yesterday. Goodie, goodie, goodie, I thought. Maybe now he’ll explain how his Smart Track funding will really work, because lately, some people, well, they’ve expressed some reservations about it. Mr. Gee and Mr. Barber.
“And what actually happened, sunshine?”
Well, not what I expected, OK?
It turned out to be an out-and-out endorsement for John Tory’s mayoral candidacy by the province’s Economic Development and Infrastructure minister and Scarborough MPP/subway lover, Brad Duguid.
“My Liberal colleagues at Queen’s Park are almost unanimously enthusiastic about John’s candidacy,” Duguid said. “We see him as the guy… to provide the stable leadership to ensure that Toronto is the partner that we need.”
“Holy shit, eh?” nasty me exclaims, bursting out into a disturbingly cackle-like noise. “Imagine that!”
“Can they do that? Should they do that?”
The cackling gets louder and even more harsh on my sensitive ears.
I mean, it’s still nearly two months until the election and the provincial government essentially just came out and told voters in this city that John Tory is the mayor it wants, the candidate it’s willing to work with. Is that normal? Blatantly meddling in a municipal election is something that’s done regularly? Why not just cut to the chase and use its legislative powers to just appoint the next mayor of Toronto?
“I know, right?”
Even the soft-headed, big-hearted me can see the gears in motion, the politics at work. Pick the candidate who’s vowed not to re-open the Scarborough subway debate. Get somebody who isn’t Rob Ford into the mayor’s office to officially close up the Metrolinx master agreement on the previous LRT and sign off on the new subway plan. Fait accompli.
“Sure. That’s one way of looking at it,” cynical me says. “Don’t forget to factor in though that, above all else, Liberals hate the NDP. More than unfunded transit plans. More than nut job, far right conservatives, more than former opponent and rival, John Tory. John Tory, Tory leader, bad. John Tory, mayor of Toronto, good. How does that even work?”
No. No. I am not going to buy into such soul-crushing, naked cynicism. Cynicism? Fatalism.
Good me, hopeful me, sanguine me refuses to accept the fact that there are politicians out there so corrupted by power that they will sacrifice the interests of the people and places they were elected to serve purely for political gain. Partisan hackery above good, sound policy. I can’t. I won’t.
“Well, run these numbers around the daisy maypole of your mind, see what conclusion you can continue to ignore.” Meany me’s just taunting happy me now.
“The province gets its subway in Scarborough with both the feds and city kicking in some money instead of having to pull the full freight for an LRT. The province has already been working on its own version of Smart Track. Now here’s this guy volunteering to put up some city money to help them do it. A guy who’s spent the entire campaign deriding an opponent as ‘the NDP candidate’. The question isn’t why or how could the Liberal government endorse John Tory. The question is, what took them so fucking long?”
No. No. Nope. No, no, no. I’m not giving into this. Not again. There’s only one proper response now. Plug my ears and walk away until jaded, cynical adult me gets bored and goes out and gets drunk somewhere.
[Pulls bottle and glass from desk drawer, pours a nice, stiff drink] Look. It’s not like I enjoy being cynical and bitter. It’s not because it’s easy. It’s just… It’s just… [takes a drink]… Hope needs to toughen up, to smarten up. Hope needs to stop being taken for a sucker. Hope needs to start realizing who the real cynics in this equation are. It ain’t me. Not by a long shot. [Finishes the drink, pours another.] Not by a long shot.
– dually submitted by Cityslikr