Mayor John Tory, after scoring a 24-21 city council victory, enabling him to push forward with some sort of hybrid option of the elevated Gardiner east expressway.
I just canx.
(It has returned.)
— numbly submitted by Cityslikr
Mayor John Tory, after scoring a 24-21 city council victory, enabling him to push forward with some sort of hybrid option of the elevated Gardiner east expressway.
I just canx.
(It has returned.)
— numbly submitted by Cityslikr
It should come as little surprise, given the magnitude of clusterfuckery inflicted on this city for the past 4+ years now, that the defining moments of John Tory’s mayoralty are coming fast and furious at him. The chicks have come home to roost as they say. Unfortunately, they hatched from eggs he didn’t lay but, now in charge of the coop, he’s obliged to raise and tend to them.
I’ve extended that analogy as far as I care to. The drift, I imagine, you get.
There’s the matter of the Scarborough subway. A white elephant of a boondoggle waiting to happen that’s going to cost the city billions of dollars unnecessarily and has already shown up on our tax bills for the past two years. During last year’s campaign, John Tory had the opportunity to flash his fiscal bonafides and renounce the scheme as little more than political pandering. He didn’t. He said, what’s done is done, there’s no use opening up that debate again. Mayor John Tory has kept that campaign pledge, steadfastly refusing to reconsider a bad decision despite the fact that all early indications suggest a Scarborough subway will compete for ridership with the south eastern portion of his own signature transit plan, SmartTrack.
Rather than rise above this parochial politics which will threaten to limit the city’s ability to pay for other big ticket capital projects in the not too distant future, Mayor Tory blinked. Maybe a forthcoming staff report will provide enough cover for him to still scuttle the plans before the worst is done. Even so, that’s not what you’d call sound leadership.
About that gaping budget hole left behind by the previous city council? John Tory assured us during the 2014 campaign that he, and only he, could heal the rift wrought by the Ford administration with the provincial government. He, and only he, could smooth the ruffled feathers and bring Queen’s Park back to the table, pockets bursting with money to ante up for long forgotten obligations they could now get back to funding. Like transit and social housing, just to pick a couple of the more important ones.
In fact, what’s happened since his election is that the city has paid more back to the province than it’s received. $95 million for the Union-Pearson rail link. Some $50 million to cover the provincial shortfall on the Spadina subway expansion. And as for that $86 million hole from the withdrawal of the social program pooling compensation? Yeah, no dice.
At which point, Mayor Tory might’ve had the responsible budget conversation with Torontonians, informing us that, for the moment, we were on our own to balance the budget and to do that we needed to talk seriously about additional revenues, higher than hoped for property tax increase for example. This was another of those defining moments, a mess not of his own making that he now had to clean up. The mayor demurred, choosing instead to pretend he’d fixed the problem. Much like his predecessor.
Unlike his predecessor, Mayor Tory decided to directly address the matter of policing in Toronto, assuming a spot on the Police Services Board rather than designate a representative. A bold move, to be sure, with a union contract to be settled, a new chief to be appointed and a number of prickly, outstanding community issues, police carding at the top of that list. This mayor was not going to run and hide from any of it.
The contract was settled quietly and amicably, it seems. The wage increase of 8.64% over 4 years isn’t outrageous out of context but it is difficult to see how it’ll bring the overall police budget, the largest single item the city has to deal with, north of $1 billion annually, into the lean machine the mayor is demanding of other city departments. Not to worry, we were assured during the budget process. Money had been set aside for such a pay increase.
The new police chief has yet to be named with the current chief, Bill Blair, set to retire near the end of this month. But at least, the carding issue has been resolved, a happy compromise reached for everyone concerned. A ‘landmark’, the mayor called it. “We cannot live in a city where young black men, for example, feel devalued or disrespected.” Hoo-rah!
Except that it seems we are. Within a matter of days, the so-called compromise unravelled into acrimonious disagreement. It satisfied almost none of the concerns the public had with the procedure, ranging from the ultimate fate of any collected information through to the informing of the public’s right of refusal to simply walk away from any interaction with the police. After claiming the compromise struck the right balance, the Police Services Board chair, Alok Mukherjee, now suggests it simply wasn’t worth it “to go to war with the chief.”
“We were getting nowhere,” Mukherjee confessed. “There was a standoff. We were at an impasse.” In short, the police chief refused to accept direction from the board, thumbed his nose at civilian oversight. He was on his way out. Know when to pick your battles, more or less.
So now, the naming of the next police chief looms large for Mayor Tory. The choice will undoubtedly reflect intensely on his mayoralty. As he likes to remind us, he was elected to shake up the status quo. We shall see while not holding our breath.
Up next in the mayor’s legacy making tour, the fate of the eastern portion of the Gardiner expressway has popped up onto the political radar. Again. This has been years in the making (and delaying) but it seems crunch time has landed right in Mayor Tory’s lap. (That sounded a lot more risqué than I intended.) This one’s already been kicked down the road as far as it can be.
The most sensible thing for anyone who isn’t one of the few drivers who uses that part of the Gardiner to get around the city is to tear it down from Jarvis street east. Replace it with a similar kind of boulevard design that happened when a previous part of the expressway was ripped own. Free that area of the city of the blight that comes from elevated thoroughfares. Step fully into the 21st-century.
But, you know, drivers. They’ll get mad. On talk radio yesterday, the mayor said people are always going to drive. So, you know, don’t rule out catering to their every demand. Drivers.
The previous council refused to make a decision. The hybrid plan – rejuvenate and rejig don’t remove the expressway — was offered up as a compromise. John Tory touted it specifically during the campaign. He was, after all, the compromise candidate.
Now that the bill has come in, and the price tag for such a compromise is so astronomical, nearly double the tear down option, nearly another billion dollars simply in order to keep car drivers happy, just how compromised is Mayor Tory?
Defining moments aren’t always time based. They happen when they happen, heedless of our orderly sensibilities and reliance on retrospective. Time isn’t on Mayor John Tory’s side. Through previous neglect and avoidance, these weighty, significant issues have piled up, their expiry dates come due. His chances are coming fast and furious. If it hasn’t yet, judgement will arrive early.
— judgmentally submitted by Cityslikr
Last Friday, Mayor John Tory raised more than a few eyebrows (and some hackles) when he announced two corporations were donating the $200,000 the city needed to keep some outdoor skating rinks open for a few more weeks. “Ummm, what?” I believe my response was upon hearing the city’s private contractor for waste collection, Green4Life, was one of those corporations. (Overcome with the case of the dizzys, I was, when news broke later that the Rogers co-owned MLSE was the other donor.)
I wrote about my concerns with this too, too cozy arrangement a couple days ago, wondering if it passed some ethical/conflict smell test. Yesterday we got the answer.
Green4Life announced that ‘After consulting with City staff about the rules around sponsorships’, they decided to ‘voluntarily withdraw’ their offer ‘so as not to affect current procurement processes.’ In other words, they’d really love to help keep the rinks open but they’ve got that corporate maw to feed.
Is it me or shouldn’t ‘consulting with City staff about the rules around sponsorships’ have sort of been the mayor’s job before rushing to go public with the details? Smell this. Does it smell funny to you? Maybe I shouldn’t go out wearing it in public, you think?
As Councillor Gord Perks pointed out in the wake of this, the city actually has a process in place to be followed for sponsorship deals. “Section 6.2,” the councillor tweeted. “To fit with Code of Conduct ONLY authorized City staff can solicit or negotiate a sponsorship agreement. Council members can’t.” Council members can’t. If Mayor Tory spearheaded these deals to keep the rinks open, did he contravene Code of Conduct rules in doing so? “Section 6.3 ,” the councillor continued. “Unsolicited offers are to be referred to the relevant City Staff.” More: “Section 6.9 All sponsorship agreements must be documented. If over $50K, legal services should be included in reviewing the agreement.” Still more: “6.11 In most circumstances, Council must approve the agreement.”
Did the mayor’s office follow any of these rules in securing the sponsorship deals to keep the skating rinks open?
“Everyone gets a case of the hiccups”, Mayor Tory said in response to Green4Life’s about face. What are you going to do? A rookie mistake.
Maybe. Maybe. It’s just hard to fathom no one around the mayor red flagged this thing. Someone sensing there might be, at best, some bad optics with it and, at worst, actual breaking of the Code of Conduct rules. Deputy Mayor Denzil Minnan-Wong, perhaps, who’s been around the block a time or two, more than 20 years of elected municipal service under his belt. His response? Great idea, boss! Let’s go skating!
You’d think that right at the top of Mayor Tory’s Not To Do list would be avoiding the appearance of any conflicts of interest, keeping talk of impropriety or backroom shenanigans to a minimum. What with the goings-on at City Hall during the last 4 years and the previous administration. Keep everyone’s noses clean, at least for the first little while.
No matter. Water under the bridge. And there’s always more fish in the sea especially for the man with a full-to-bursting rolodex.
Plan B (generously speaking) came at another skating rink with the mayor revealing that Tim Horton’s (Timmies, to their friends) would step into the donor void left by Green4Life, chipping in $100,000 to help keep the rinks open. Problem solved. Done, and done. The private sector gallantly to the rescue again. Everything above board, clean as a whistle and legit now.
“If Tim Horton’s is the new outdoor rink sponsor,” Adam Chaleff-Freudenthaler tweeted, “they’re active lobbyists (as recent as Feb. 10).” Jude MacDonald pointed out further information from the Tim Horton’s lobbyist registrar page, showing that some of the subject matter the company signed up to lobby on was “City Policies relating to Economic Growth, Regulatory Issues; Blue Box Program; Drive-Through policy.”
So, we have this restaurant chain of the ‘quick service’ variety, talking to city officials about city policy concerning issues directly affecting them. ‘Blue Box Program’? Where do I throw away this coffee cup anyway? Garbage? Recycling? The lid in one, the cup in the other? What? ‘Drive-Through policy’?! All those nasty emissions from idling cars waiting in the drive-through line. Fine. But now they’re donating $100,000 to keep some city run skating rinks open?
I’m not alone in finding this deal more than a little unsettling, am I?
I tried to state my leeriness about it in a few 140 character outbursts yesterday. Let’s see if I can string the thoughts together here.
If a company wants to do business with or is already doing business with the city, or wants to have some say, influence even, in how the city conducts its business, it strikes me that company shouldn’t be in the business of donating money to help the city go about its business. How is that not somehow greasing something that ought not to be greased? There may be some out there who believe fully in the goodness of the corporate heart. I’m just a person who thinks corporations don’t really have hearts, only bottom lines.
Maybe we should work to keep things like the operation of skating rinks in house and stop being dependant on the continued goodwill of upstanding corporate citizens to help effectively run this city. Decrease the overlap of the public and private sectors. Wouldn’t it be a whole lot less ethically messy that way?
— helpfully submitted by Cityslikr
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
It’s smart and… it involves tracks.
Smart Track. Rolls off the tongue without so much as giving it a second thought.
Which is a good thing (at least for the John Tory camp) because when people start putting more than a passing thought into this much hyped transit plan, the only thing left to say about it… Track. Yes, it definitely involves track.
Just over a week ago, the Globe and Mail’s Marcus Gee began to wonder how exactly John Tory was going to fund the city’s contribution to the ambitious 53 kilometre, 22 station plan. “I don’t propose to offer hardworking Torontonians transit relief in exchange for a financial headache that could last for years,” Tory said back in June. “Therefore, I will not raise property taxes to build the SmartTrack line. The city’s one-third portion will come from tax-increment financing.”
Tax-increment financing, everyone! The solution for not paying for stuff we need now has a name to it. And a fancy-schmancy, official sounding name it is too.
“But it is far from clear that TIF could work here in Toronto, especially for such a costly project,” Mr. Gee writes.
Wait, what? ‘Far from clear that TIF could work…?’ Did I read you right there, Mr. Gee. “This leading candidate for mayor is just feeding more false hopes,” he concludes.
A leading candidate feeding us false hopes on transit. Stop me if you’ve heard that one before.
Where Marcus Gee was cautiously skeptical about the Tory Smart Track plan, John Barber, writing in the Toronto Star a week later, was nothing short of stupendously apoplectic. “As mayor, John Tory could derail Toronto by trying to implement his half-baked, financially fraudulent transit plan,” states the sub-headline. And Barber is just getting started.
The magic carpet Tory has commandeered for this trip is called tax-increment financing (TIF), whereby the city borrows $3-billion and promises to pay it off with future tax revenue generated by property development attracted to the new stations. Tory’s breezy backgrounder cites a study by Metrolinx, the provincial transit authority, to explain how the magic is supposed to work. But because the type is so big and the single page so small, it doesn’t have space to report the study’s conclusion: that TIF is the riskiest, least desirable of all potential transit financing mechanisms, given one star out of five in the study’s final rating.
If he wasn’t so grumpy looking all the time, I’d plant a big wet one on John Barber for that sentence alone.
John Tory’s big plan for building much needed new transit is untried and untested here in Ontario. Expert panels brought together to come up with the best ways to fund transit expansion have ranked tax-increment funding well down the list of feasible approaches. As Marcus Gee pointed out in his article, a recent panel chaired by Anne Golden listed tax-increment funding “as one of its ‘smaller’ revenue sources.” Both Gee and Barber point out the funding of subway construction in New York has fallen far short of the original TIF projections.
AND THERE’S NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT, PEOPLE!
If we want new infrastructure, whether it’s transit or roads or new sewer lines, we should be paying for it. When did we start believing this stuff comes at no cost to us? When crass, craven politicians like John Tory started pitching us a line, telling us there was a magic pot of gold at the end of the rainbow made from unicorn tears.
Nobody seems to dispute the worthiness of the plan itself. The province has been working on their version of it for a few years now. If it actually contributes to helping reduce gridlock and congestion, bring it on.
But stop trying to convince us it won’t cost us a dime. We bought into that scam 4 years ago and here we are, plans delayed, plans scuttled, relief years, if not decades away.
— in arrearsly submitted by Cityslikr
If nothing else, the reaction to the Liberal win from the two main parties (and their supporters) that went down to defeat serves as valid justification for having not voted for them.
Ousted from the Etobicoke-Lakeshore riding he’d claimed only last year in a by-election, Doug Holyday summed up the reason for the loss. Union attack ads. A conservative politician bemoaning his fate at the hands of attack ads. Imagine that.
For its part, the NDP were still smarting from the perceived betrayal by the traitor within its own ranks during the campaign. When 3 MPPs from Toronto lost on election night, it was all, see what you went and did, you bunch of Judases? You got played, dumbasses. Here, let me help clean that egg off your faces.
Whatever happened to taking responsibility?
I mean, the NDP and PCs presented their respective platforms from a campaign strategy “…developed over years” as NOW’s Susan G. Cole stated. They took it to the electorate over some 40 days. Here, voters. This is who we are and what we’ll do if we form the next government. Vote for us.
The dice were rolled and came up snake eyes for the two opposition parties. For reasons that can only superficially be explained at this early juncture, Ontarians rejected the PC and NDP bids (based, of course, on a first past the post model) and gave the Liberals a majority mandate. The vagaries of democracy, eh?
Now, a noble person, full of humility, would, at least publicly, accept the loss as the result of the wisdom of the masses. It’s not necessarily that they were wrong and the public right on any particular issue. The messaging didn’t work, this time around. Or maybe, it was just the messenger who failed to click with people, failed to tell a compelling story.
Take your pick but, my god, take responsibility.
One particularly condescending bit of unwillingness to accept defeat graciously came from a chorus of conservative commentators. Pampered and entitled voters refused to take the dose of tough medicine needed to turn things around in this province. So this line of reasoning went.
Aside from the various mad scribblings to this effect inside the Toronto Sun, the Globe and Mail’s Marcus Gee put on his somber face. “Investment may be good for Toronto,” he wrote. “A provincial government that continues to go into debt is not.” Further, “While she [Premier Wynne] carried the day by arguing in the campaign that it is wrong-headed to cut the way to success, it is it is unclear what answers she has for the broader Ontario problem.”
“Wrong-headed” but not necessarily wrong to think, like Tim Hudak and the Progressive Conservatives, that you can cut your way to success.
The National Post’s Matt Gurney took it one step further, assuaging the troubled minds of conservatives with the soothing assurances that, it hardly mattered who won the election, the tough choices were coming whether the Liberals like it or not. “If Ontario is to maintain any fiscal credibility, and avoid ruinous ratings cuts,” he writes, “there is significant austerity ahead.”
While the Progressive Conservative platform was unpalatable for voters in Ontario, it is inevitable. Like night following day, fall following summer, austerity is coming, folks. It doesn’t matter who’s in power.
Mr. Gurney may be right. The Liberals may accept that reality as it’s being pitched. Certainly there were dark utterings of austerity measures being loaded into the back end of the budget that brought the Liberals down in May and that they have pledged to bring back post haste.
But my question to him over the weekend, and to all the others singing from that same neocon songbook, was why? There’s no question the province’s fiscal fitness is worrisome. The economy remains fragile. Our debt level is high. But where is it written that austerity is the only way out of this? I’ve pleaded for austerimaniacs to point me to an example where it has worked. The response so far? A shrug.
So maybe voters in Ontario didn’t reject the conservative bad news reality because they were unwilling to face up to the harsh facts of life. Maybe they just didn’t accept the premise. Maybe they weren’t prepared to go down that brutish road of untested economic theory. Especially since the alleged upside, the million jobs that would be created, was, well, maybe not that robust. A claim, based as it was, on faulty math. Or “glitches” as the National Post’s editorial board referred to it in its endorsement of Tim Hudak.
We all know from our own personal experiences that being rejected is tough. It’s difficult to accept the fact that you didn’t measure up. Despite your best intentions and firmest belief in them, your plans just did not work out.
When that happens, though, we don’t really indulge the impulse to blame others for the failure. It tends to lead to a narrowing of vision, a hardening of conviction, a wobbly sense of certainty and confidence. What we really should expect is that, in the face of defeat, we go through a period of reassessment and rethinking. What did I do right? Where do I go wrong? What could I have done differently to bring about a different outcome?
Going back to the drawing board, as they say.
But it’s hard to correct any mistakes you might have made when you refuse to admit mistakes were made in the first place. It seems at this point of time, the PCs and NDP are refusing to make the tough choice necessary in acknowledging that they fell short again this time, and the culprit for that is looking straight at them in the mirror. That is, if they decide they really need to have a look in it.
— honestly submitted by Cityslikr
Listening to the new CEO of the Greater Toronto Civic Action Alliance, Sevaun Palvetzian, on Metro Morning yesterday, the thought crossed my mind just as host Matt Galloway articulated it. “What has that got us?” That, being the type of advocacy and public discourse generating the GTCAA undertakes. The harnessing ‘the wisdom of the crowds”, as Ms. Palvetzian stated.
The GTCAA has been on the forefront of the region’s congestion question during the past couple years or so. Its Your32 campaign sought to bring home the total cost of congestion to each individual living in the GTHA, not just in terms of money but time lost as well. What would you do with the extra 32 minutes you’d gain if we all weren’t bogged down in traffic and under-serviced by public transit?
Get building more transit, the group chimed in. Fund it. Build it. Push on with The Big Move. Now.
That’s probably too harsh. New transit is being built. The University-Spadina subway extension. The Eglinton LRT crosstown.
But there’s a shitload more to do and lots of questions about project priorities and where to get the money to fund them. Questions the GTCAA participated in asking and promoting to a wider audience for a broader discussion. The group helped create a real sense of urgency on the transit file.
And then, a funny thing happened on the way to the forum of decision making.
John Tory, the former GTCAA chair, and the former CEO Mitzi Hunter, both left the organization to pursue political positions. Ms. Hunter won a seat in the provincial legislature for the Liberal government in a Scarborough by-election last summer and is running for re-election in the current general election. Mr. Tory is seeking the job of mayor of Toronto.
I think it’s safe to say that neither candidate has pursued the transit issue with the same zeal they had back in their GTCAA days. Hunter, mysteriously, became the Scarborough Subway Champion as part of the Liberal’s backroom politicization of the transit file in order to retain the seat, backing the more expensive and less expansive subway plan over the original Big Move LRT extension of the Bloor-Danforth line eastward. A switch Tory also favours as part of his mayoral campaign. We’re hearing little from either one of them about any sort of funding tools beyond the dedicated property tax increase for the Scarborough subway. Rather than agents of change, they’ve settled into the role of obstructionists.
Writing this, it’s hard to shake off the feeling that politics is where bold ideas go to die. Give a listen to the Metro Morning segment following the interview with Ms. Palvetzian. Three party appointed talking heads spouting talking points ahead of the provincial leaders’ debate last night. Oh, that leaders’ debate last night! The boldest vision based on a monumental lie and the other two just carefully calculated poses.
We can talk all we want, hash out plans, harness the wisdom of crowds, but if those we elect to implement such wisdom shrug off the responsibility of doing so, what’s it matter? Do we just accept the role of demanding big change while settling for incremental?
And I have to tell you, news that the Greater Toronto Civic Action Alliance had named Rod Phillips as its new chair of the board brought me no great comfort either. Searching through his bio, nothing jumped out at me that screamed civic-minded. Maybe I’m missing something but this is someone who until just recently was the head of the Ontario Lottery and Gaming, a provincial government Crown corporation that spearheaded the push for a casino on the city’s waterfront. Civic-minded? Really?
Perhaps we need to stop looking for outside help in solving our problems. Reading Marcus Gee’s 2009 article about the Greater Toronto Civic Action Alliance’s (originally known as the Toronto City Summit Alliance) founder, the late David Pecaut, I’m beginning to wonder if maybe he had it wrong.
“The message of his [Pecaut] life is that you don’t need to beat City Hall,” Gee wrote. “You can go around it. Rather than wait for the creaking cogs of official machinery to turn, he learned to build networks of interested parties, private and public, that could forge ahead on their own.”
Maybe instead of trying to go around City Hall or Queen’s Park, we should expend our energy going through them. I think it borders on the delusional to think the major issues of our time – congestion, inequality, climate change – can be addressed without government signing on. “Let’s just go out and do it, and tell City Hall when we’re done,” Mr. Pecaut is quoted as saying. How about we cut out the middle man, and just go out and take control of City Hall?
If we’re really fed up with politics, with the inaction we’re seeing on almost every front, the conversation shouldn’t be about whether or not to vote or what the proper way to decline a ballot is. It’s long past that. We should all be looking for and demanding to see candidates on the ballot who reflect our values and aspirations. Rarely, in my experience, has that not been the case.
Sure, many have been longshots and no-hopers. As long as we stay on the sidelines or remain content to hold our nose and vote for the least worst option, that’ll continue to be the case. Our time and energy would be better spent trying to change that dynamic rather than passively accept it and trying to work around it.
— challengingly submitted by Cityslikr