Meet A Mayoral Candidate — Part IV

TGIF! And the next installment of Meet A Mayoral Candidate. Drum roll, please…

Selwyn For Mayor

Now regular readers of this column will know that all of us here at All Fired Up in the Big Smoke think of ourselves as pretty smart cookies. Acaphlegmic is the book smart one. Urban Sophisticat has street savvy. And me? I know my Ps and Qs, if you know what I’m saying.

We’re like the Charlie’s Angels of the Toronto municipal political blog scene.

But every so often (and I’m sure this happens to you out there much more than it does us here) you encounter someone who is just so smart, so intellectually towering that it’s intimidating to the point of pant wetting. You can’t speak in their presence, tongue-tied for fear of saying something utterly and hopelessly inane and stupid. If such a big-brained being so much as looks in your direction, all you’re capable of doing is dropping to the ground, rolling over onto your back in the hopes that The Smart One deigns to reach down and scratch your belly.

Mayoral candidate Selwyn Firth may be that kind of super-intelligent being. So much so, I’m feeling a little hesitant even attempting to outline his platform. He may just be out of my league.

A chemical engineer by trade, Mr. Firth has some very strong environmental views that don’t align with today’s conventional wisdom. He is a big proponent of clean incineration of not only garbage but much of what we are presently recycling. According to the science behind his Clean Incineration, we could save money and produce electricity at the same time. In his capacity as a chemical engineer, Mr. Firth would oversee this program if elected mayor.

Mr. Firth also believes that we aren’t in the grips of a greenhouse effect but rather a direct heat effect. Again, this is uncertain terrain for me but in a letter he sent to Premier McGuinty last month, it seems Mr. Firth is just as concerned about the latter as much of the world is with the former. Uninformed, non-scientific opinion holds that it’s the gases we emit that are causing climate change. Instead, according to Mr. Firth, the problem comes from the heat we generate and he goes into much calculating detail to explain his theory. Still, Mr. Firth admits that ours is an “insatiable energy use” and if we are not prepared to reign that in we will have to start learning how to “geo-engineer[ing] cloud formation[s] to reflect more sunlight” using ballistic missiles and warming the ocean surfaces in order to cool the atmosphere.

With no scientific background outside of the occasional Nova episode, I can hardly attempt to dispute Mr. Firth’s claims but I do find it curious that despite his alarm at the heating of our environment he seems abjectly unconcerned with tempering car use in the city. As mayor he would “evaluate better access routes into and out of the downtown core” including.. including.. I can barely bring myself to say it.. completing the Spadina Expressway!! “Expressway’s are like arteries for the down town heart. Without good ones the down town will suffer and people will stay away,” Mr. Firth wrote.

Not even the pro-car mayoral candidate, Rocco Rossi, has suggested reviving that long dead debate. And like Rossi, Mr. Firth would banish bikes from arterial roadways, believing that too many cyclists disregard the rules of the road. While no one would argue with that fact, if we’re banishing every vehicle from the main streets because they don’t adhere to the law, they would be empty, lonely strips of pavement. Not something I’d be against but let’s apply it equally to car and bike alike.

But again, perhaps I’m missing the thrust of Mr. Firth’s reasoning.

He wants to lessen the TTC’s dependence on streetcars which he feels are a 19th-century mode of transportation in the 21st-century. They snarl traffic when they breakdown, their weight causes unnecessary road damage and are less accessible than something like kneeling buses. None of which I would try to refute other than to state that I’m a sucker for the illogical magic of the red rocket and irrationally back the LRTs and right-of-way roads to accommodate them.

But that ultimately puts me at odds with candidate Selwyn Firth. “Science should trump emotions” the main page of his website states. He’s right, of course. We would be better served if our governance was driven more by reason rather than ideology and gut instincts. I would like to hear more debate about his clean incineration plans. His website is full of other environmentally friendly ideas.

Yet I feel that Mr. Firth’s emphasis on simple cold calculation exposes a certain lack of heart necessary for public service. His response to our incredibly frivolous question, If the present mayor would like his legacy to be that of the Transit Mayor, how would a Mayor Selwyn Firth like to see his legacy written?, was: “I would like my legacy to be that of a holistic mayor who understood the needs of the city as a whole.” A laudable ambition, certainly, but as a less rational being than Selwyn Firth I feel that I may not be part of his whole. I’d like to think a candidate for public office seeks to reach out for my understanding not reach down.

Of course, that may just be me, being densely irrational. But as Jonathan Swift suggested in Gulliver’s Travels, a society that runs on reason alone cannot function fully any more than one that operates purely on passion.

dutifully submitted by Cityslikr

3 thoughts on “Meet A Mayoral Candidate — Part IV

  1. Wow.
    reviving the infamous Spadina Expressway debate that’s brave of mayoral candidate Selwyn Firth. And Cityslikr, good on your for profiling some interesting mayoral candidates that aren’t getting a lot of attention so far.

  2. I am too bright and knowledgeable to effectively convince the writer of this article that what the city needs is beyond his limited ken. I must rely on others less skilled in logic to do so.
    When dealing with transportation one needs to deal with science not love of an outmoded costly and inefficient technology such as streetcars.
    When a person has to refute or try to diminish what another says be resortong to a work of fiction as this writer did it is a demonstration of his weakness in the realm of logic and reason.
    This is why the city will end up electing the likes of Smitherman or Ford.
    The citizens who vote are either too lazy or incompetent to find out more about better and more viable candidates
    It seems the city allways elects the mayor it deserves, not the best one as this election will prove.

    • Now, now, now, Mr. Firth.

      We here at All Fired Up in the Big Smoke think you’ve been getting downright cocky recently. Sounding a little Muhammad Ali-ish to our Joe Frazier, intellectually speaking.

      Here’s just a quick sample of some non-fiction that tells of the positive attributes a well-designed streetcar system can bring to a city. Neighbourhoods in Portland, Oregon seem to be thriving after streetcar lines are introduced. They seem to be neither ‘outmoded’, ‘costly’ and ‘inefficient’ as you claim.

      They are less expensive than subways (objective statement). More aesthetically pleasing than buses (purely subjective). And certainly more environmentally and socially friendly than the cars and expressways you seem to espouse (feel free to dispute that, Mr. Firth, but history doesn’t seem to be on your side with this one).

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