On The Other Hand, Maybe Some Debaters Should Be Stifled

While trolling through our Twitter site, I came across this little gem from Jonathon Goldsbie about the conduct of a certain councillor now being touted as mayoral material. I highly urge anyone interested in the municipal campaign to take a moment to read through it. It is the city’s Integrity Commissioner Report on a code of conduct violation.

I won’t go into all the details but, in short, Councillor Ford twice blew off questions of confidentially, once during a radio broadcast and then again during a council meeting. He subsequently tried to bluster and bluff his way in order to avoid taking responsibility before finally being cornered into apologizing.

Allow me to just give a few snippets from the report as it makes its way toward recommending a reprimand be given to Councillor Ford for yet another breach of the official Code of Conduct.

A Council meeting was called for August 5 and 6, 2009. One of the agenda items was for Council to approve the purchase of a residential property in North York as part of the “Strategy for the Implementation of the North York Centre Plan Service Road-North York Centre.” A report and a confidential attachment concerning the real estate transaction were circulated to the Councillors because it was on the Council agenda. Councillor Ford did not read the report [bolding ours], but instead he focussed on the recommendation that Council approve the sale of a house, and the costs associated with the proposed deal. He objected to both because he said he didn’t think a recession was the right time for the City to “buy a house.”

Councillor Ford said that he knew he couldn’t defeat the motion, but that he wanted to bring the matter to the attention of his colleagues and he asked the matter be held for debate.

… Councillor Ford said that he decided to reveal the confidential information on the radio show on the morning of August 6, because he thought that Council had already dealt with the item on the 5th of August which would mean the figures could be made public. Councillor Ford admitted that he did not actually check to see if the item had been debated in his absence [bolding ours]. He also knew that he hadn’t spoken to it on the 5th of August, but he said that sometimes items are dealt with in his absence. Accordingly, he took the data from his purple sheet, made notes on his agenda for the radio program and made the confidential information public during the broadcast on the morning of August 6, 2009.

Councillor Ford acknowledged that he did not read the report to Council about the transaction [bolding ours]. If he had, he would have seen that Council was being asked to “authorize the release of the confidential information and recommendations in Attachment 1, once the transaction has closed.” In other words, Councillor Ford’s justification for releasing the information did not apply, even if Council had debated the item.

And so it goes. The man kicks up a fuss over an issue he has not taken the time to even read through thoroughly. And when he makes a mistake he only admits to it when he’s trapped into a corner of his own making with double-talk and obfuscation.

Can we please stop taking Rob Ford seriously as a contender for the office of mayor of Toronto. Regardless of how angry you may be at the state of the city and how it’s being run, Rob Ford is not the solution. In fact, he may be part of the problem.

astoundingly submitted by Urban Sophisticat

Stifling Debate

With little fanfare, Toronto’s municipal election heated up yesterday with 3 – count `em – 3 mayoral candidate debates. Now alas, 2 weren’t open to the wider public, with one being at a school in Scarborough and another for the Toronto Real Estate Board where, surprise, surprise, according to a poll conducted by the host group, the second most important issue to voters after public transit is the repeal of the Land Transfer Tax. We’d love to see how that question was posed to end up with such a fortuitous stat.

What’s equally interesting to note from the Day of Debates©®™ is that regardless of the venue, only 6 candidates received invitations to participate. Whether it was the TREB, the Albert Campbell Collegiate Institute or the good people of the Bloor West Residents Association, they all have accepted the given narrative that there are six, and only six, candidates to be listened to and considered as legitimate hopefuls to be mayor. What’s going on here?

Do only those sporting a high media profile or with impeccable connections make the cut? What has Sarah Thomson done that has merited her a spot on the debate podium? Does being a sitting councillor automatically qualify you for contender status even though most of the shit coming out of your mouth is no less crazy or unworkable than that coming from those sidelined as ‘fringe’ candidates? Rocco Rossi is purely a backroom one trick pony and yet there he is, being treated like serious mayoral material.

At last count there are 20 other candidates who have paid their $200 and have every right to be heard but are clearly being marginalized. How does this help our democracy or open up the debate to wider, more diverse voices by excluding people who have expressed a clear interest in our local politics and registered to run for office? Yes, there are undoubtedly cranks standing out on the fringe. That’s what happens when everyone is free to vote and free to seek public office. The alternative is far more frightening.

Throughout our weekly Meet A Mayoral Candidate profiles, we here at All Fired Up in the Big Smoke have encountered some very intriguing prospects. Sonny Yeung. Wendell Brereton. Keith Cole. George Babula and his Parkdale Party. They all bring certain political ticks and quirks to the table that limits their reach at the moment. But which of the leading candidates don’t?

Four months into the campaign and let’s take a moment to look at what we’re being given. Aside from curfews and tax breaks for senior citizens, who knows why Giorgio Mammoliti wants to be mayor or what he might do if elected. The man’s been a councillor in North York and Toronto for nearly 15 years and I have no idea what he stands for. Then there’s Rob Ford. A clown (a mean, nasty one at that) by any other measure who has plugged into the anti-incumbent, unfocussed anger out there and is riding it into contention on a platform of idiotic and detrimental policy proposals. Ditto Rocco Rossi only with a slightly smoother presentation. Sarah Thomson introduced the idea of road tolls and subways into the debate and then seems to have taken a powder.

Leaving us with two other candidates. The first, the perceived front runner, is an undistinguished former Toronto MPP and cabinet minister in an undistinguished government who sometime last year got it into his head that he wanted to be mayor. Why? Who knows. It’s tough to get any sort of answer from a candidate who doesn’t want to engage fully for fear of making a mistake and finding himself in a horse race. So we get essentially a counter-punching offensive, attacking whatever his opponents say and then uttering mealy-mouthed platitudes like ‘an integrated transportation plan’ or ‘Services First Approach’.

Then there’s Joe Pantalone, the lone ‘viable’ candidate running from the progressive-left. That alone should make this his election to lose, what with him having been on council for 30 years and being the Deputy Mayor for the last 6. Yet Joe seems so petrified of being linked with David Miller that it seems his strategy is just to lay low, keep quiet and wait for all the lefties to eventually find their way to him.

Although to be fair to Joe, he’s not being treated with much respect from the press. Following last night’s debate from Runnymede United Church via the Twitter, when the candidates were asked what green initiatives of Mayor Miller’s they would keep if elected, Kelly Grant from the Globe and Mail tweeted Pantalone’s answer like this: Pants… reminds us of his tree hugging… Uhhh, Ms. Grant? Environmental issues aren’t just for dirty hippies anymore.

No, people. Time is of the essence. We are being sold a bill of goods here. Contenders have been unjustifiably anointed. Issues corralled and packaged for easy digestion. We need to open things up, bring in fresh perspectives. With another 6 months to go in the campaign, the process has already started to simply spin its wheels. Everyone is running in place.

Let’s ignore the prix fixe we’ve been given and demand to order from the a la carte menu. Twenty-six candidates have registered to run for mayor and twenty of them have been shut out of the process. That is not democracy. That is not a free and open debate. It’s a façade. A charade. A façade of a charade and no one save the chosen few are being well served by it.

It’s time to find ourselves a barn and put on our own show.

Judy Garlandly submitted by Cityslikr