I do have to chime in here with some sort of counterweight to my colleague’s anti-Rob Ford screed from a couple days ago. Not that I’m offering up any sort of endorsement or advocating serious consideration of the man’s candidacy which is simple-minded, reactionary and astoundingly misguided, to say the least. A Mayor Ford administration would be nothing short of catastrophic for this city as he stands looking back into a never-was past while Toronto stumbles and bumbles toward an uncertain future.
Contradiction and ignorance lie at the heart of his nascent campaign platform. His vow to start the process of cutting the number of councillors at City Hall in half speaks volumes about his lack of understanding toward governance. Toronto is already highly under-represented in terms of elected representatives per resident at every level of government. Ford’s proposal would put us into the stratosphere, far, far beyond the pale with one councillor representing over 113 thousand residents. And he’s going to guarantee councillors will return promptly return residents phone calls?!?
Furthermore, there’s no evidence to show that cutting the number of elected officials would result in a corresponding drop in financial savings for the city. Exactly the opposite, in fact, proved to be the case here during amalgamation. Far fewer councillors represent the “new” city of Toronto than there had been when each of the 6 municipalities functioned alone (106 then; 44 now.) In order to effectively deal with the increased work load, more staff had to be hired and the bureaucracy grew. No savings have been registered.
Despite this, Ford wants to slice the number of councillors even further? All they will be doing with their time is answering calls from their constituents, leaving the business of the city grinding to a halt. Now, this may be how Councillor Ford operated in his fiefdom of Etobicoke North but as a mayor of a city of 2.5 million people… I can only weep at the prospect.
Still, the man and his skewed, dysfunctional politics cannot be simply wished away, I’m afraid. He has tapped into the anger and resentment that is brewing in a sizeable portion of the population. An anger and resentment he and other mayoral candidates like George Smitherman, Rocco Rossi and Giorgio Mammoliti have helped foment certainly. As irrational, misplaced and manufactured as it may be, it has to be directly addressed by candidates on the other side of the political divide.
Candidate Rob Ford should not and cannot be ignored as simply a fringe candidate. His views have to be challenged head on. His proposed policies need to exposed and eviscerated for the divisive and destructive ideas that they surely are. The anger and antipathy to government that he represents has to be answered and not shrugged off.
We write Rob Ford off as a clown (though a clown he may be) at our peril.
— cautionarily submitted by Urban Sophisticat