As Toronto’s mayoral race is being forcibly shoehorned into an ill-fitting two man race, leaving anyone who usually sits happily left of centre with the distasteful choice between worse, worser or simply making a defiant gesture, the time has come to turn our attentions more fully to the council races. To protect the city’s progressive spirit from the nasty onslaught of a His Honour SmitherFord™®© (FordMan®™©?), a council needs to be in place that will resist the worst impulses of such a short-sighted, small thinking regime. Barring some wacky turn of events between now and October 25th, no one is going to assume the mayoralty with a sweeping mandate. So a strong, purposeful council needs to be in place.
We here in Ward 19 (Joe Pantalone’s former stronghold) have already endorsed Karen Sun as our councillor of choice. But a post in yesterday’s Torontoist caught our attention as it featured our particular council race. It interviewed the three perceived front runners and the thoughts and opinions expressed by two of them struck us as typifying the stark divisions at work in the city at the moment. Whoever prevails will go a long way to determining the direction Toronto takes over the next few years.
Karen Sun versus Sean McCormick.
A quick look at their respective backgrounds and experience reflects an important distinction between the two. Sun has worked with the city as part of its Urban Forestry Services and Water and Wastewater Division. She’s the Toronto chapter executive director of the Chinese Canadian National Council and serves on the boards of several extra-governmental community organizations, including Heritage Toronto. McCormick is a media personality who founded the annual summer Queen West Musicfest.
Karen Sun has made a career of active civic engagement with the community. Sean McCormick has a single resume padder. I know throughout this campaign we’ve heard much antagonism toward “career politicians” but it’s safe to assume which one of these candidates will hit the ground running if elected.
Sun and McCormick’s responses to the questions posed by Torontoist also reveal a large gap in knowledge about the issues at work in Ward 19. Simple-minded, misguided ideology informs one while an open, informed, flexible approach is the basis of the other.
When asked about development in Liberty Village, McCormick is generally in favour of it but “…concedes that developers require a certain amount of oversight.” He then focuses on one issue, the pedestrian bridge that is in the works, as if that alone will solve the problems and concerns of increasing density in the area. Like the mayoral candidate he’s fashioning his campaign after, McCormick offers little in the form of insightful ideas that he would bring to the table as councillor.
Same question asked of Karen Sun? “I think there will be more pressure to build denser, and to build towers. And I think that’s fine,” she said. “But if we are going to be building up, I think we need to go to some of those other cities and see how they build tower communities well.”
“Because right now [Toronto is] zoning them as mixed-use, and then building twenty, thirty-storey towers with a Rabba and a Blockbuster on the first floor, and calling that mixed-use. When you’re putting another thousand residents into an area that used to be zoned as employment lands and the only employment opportunities are retail at a couple of stores, I mean, that’s not a community, right?”
On that response alone it’s clear who the more qualified candidate is but it continues for 6 more questions, all of which reveal Mr. McCormick to be as unfit for elected office as Rob Ford is. The Ossington bar/restaurant moratorium? Sun isn’t in favour of it but largely due to the lack of public consultation that was involved. She believes much of the business-resident friction could be alleviated by proper enforcement of current noise by-laws and that the city should work with the province in changing the liquor law licensing to make explicit distinctions between bars and restaurants. Moratorium bad, development good, according to McCormick. He then proceeds to paint the scene on Ossington in its pre-hip days as a hotbed of criminality that suggests he spent more time watching Law & Order at home on TV than he did in the vicinity. And really, Sean? “Ne’er-do-wells”? How old are you anyway? 90?
How about transit expansion? Sun wants to proceed with Transit City because it’s this first massive transit plan for Toronto in decades that has all 3 levels of government on board. McCormick? Subways please and then he goes on to applaud former candidate, Rocco Rossi’s largely discredited plans for selling city assets to finance them. Same theme for the idea of electrification of the Georgetown corridor and Union-Pearson airport link. Sun yes, McCormick no, as it’ll place too much burden on the tax payer, as increased expense automatically translates into increased taxes in Sean’s world. This, despite the fact that, an electrified Georgetown corridor would be highly beneficial to residents of Liberty Village not only environmentally but electric train technology would allow for a stop near the Village which diesel wouldn’t. But, no matter to likes of Sean McCormick and his empty posturing as Angry Taxpayer Man.
While the die may, may, be cast for our disagreeable choice of mayor, we can counteract that by diligently keeping the likes of Sean McCormick out of City Hall. If a healthy majority of Toronto wards elect councillors as intelligent, well-versed and hardworking as Karen Sun, the situation will not be nearly as dire. We can endure a SmitherFord/FordMan®™© as our mayor if we surround them with a council consisting of the likes Karen Sun.
— positively submitted by Cityslikr
Spin it as you like the city will choose the mayor it deserves as will the wards choose the councilors they deserve. If only everyone cared enough to look at the online platforms of the various candidates and then voted the election results would be a lot different than what this lazy apathetic city will end up getting. Stupidity and apathy abound in our society and that is why we end up with the elected officials we get.
Dear Mr. Firth,
We here at All Fired Up in the Big Smoke are finding your comments increasingly harshing our already harshed mellow. You are beginning to border on the nihilistic. From nihilism rises fascism. You don’t want to go there.
Come back from the darkness, Mr. Firth. Don’t walk toward the darkness.
What about those of us without the likes of Karen Sun on our local slate?
Despairing in Ward 30
Yes, we here at All Fired Up in the Big Smoke feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to elect someone of Karen Sun’s caliber to represent us on city council. We realize not every ward is being offered that chance.
Glancing over the ward 30 candidate list, it struck us that your former TV personality in the running, Liz West, touts the same empty-headed, Rob Ford blather as ours, Sean McCormick. What’s that about the media’s liberal bias? Do you think they were forced out of the business because of their right wing toting beliefs?
Reading between the lines of Liz West’s campaign literature and website, I wrote her off as a Ford-ite early on. But I have no theories on the demise of her former career, having never seen her on TV.
When I first met Liz, canvassing in front of our school, she seemed a bit taken aback when I told her that. Pleased me to no end.
We here at All Fired Up in the Big Smoke missed out on experiencing same pleasure as we weren’t in our office when Mr. McCormick came a-knocking.
“electric train technology would allow for a stop near the Village which diesel wouldn’t”
Got a link to a Georgetown South EA document that specifies that and the basis for it?
Incidentally the Sun/McCormick gap on electrification is interesting. Sun wants someone else to pay for electrification, or at least makes no commitment for the City to ante up to show its bona fides on having best available technology. McCormick on the other hand says “too much money” except without a contribution from the City it comes out of general provincial revenues so not really his problem per se!
The gap between Sun and McCormick is based on the fact Sun knows what she is talking about and McCormick doesn’t.
Not even the biggest tax-and-spend pinko at City Hall believes the City could possibly pay to electrify the province’s choo-choos. However, many councillors have used their organizational muscle to rally citizens and successfully challenge the province’s stance on diesel rail. If we are to get full electrification along the Georgetown corridor, we need more councillors to do this.
John, I didn’t say the City would PAY FOR electrification, I said it should CONTRIBUTE to it. At present, the City only contributes a nominal amount to GO but it seems clear that GO will become more and more significant to intraToronto travel especially with all day 2-way service on most lines. This was demonstrated by the City’s decision to purchase Union. If the City offers to put skin in the game, let’s say even 5-10% of the incremental cost of electrification over the years it takes to construct as far as Georgetown, that buys them a seat at the table when it comes to stuff like stop placement, especially since the politicos were kicked off Metrolinx.
The thing about electrification of GO, you see, is that GO trains are based out of Willowbrook Yard, near Mimico. So to electrify the Weston line FIRST, you have to electrify a decent chunk of the Lakeshore West all the way to Union – and until Lakeshore West is electrified that makes all of that non-revenue electric infrastructure. Additionally, some current (Barrie) and future GO trains (Kitchener, Bolton), all VIA and all freight are likely to remain diesel into the 2020s irrespective of when Georgetown/UPRL is electrified.
Any decision by the City to spend cash might then lead to a justified query by citizens in the Beaches and Sunnyside as to why their lines, loaded as they are with far more frequent GO, freight and VIA service *right now* must wait behind Weston, because it will take up to 10 UPRL services as proposed to match the emissions produced by a single Lakeshore train barrelling along past CityPlace or the West Don Lands, all day, every day.
Mark, I’m afraid all those technical details are going over my little head.
From where I am sitting the only issue is whether the province can morally justify a decision to spew tonnes of toxic exhaust into our neighbourhoods just so it can move business-class travelers from Union Station to the airport. If my neighbour decided to build a garbage dump next door, I wouldn’t expect to be asked to chip in towards the cost of making it more environmentally-friendly.
The thing I can’t understand about people who fixate on the airport link is this: Georgetown GO and UPRL trains aren’t the only thing in this city that run on diesel. I’m all for electric transportation – but I want to get rid of the worst polluters first and those are Lakeshore line trains (disclosure – I live in Ward 29 about 1km from the line).
The Weston lobby makes the case that UPRL will make the Georgetown line busier but continually neglects to mention that UPRL trains are much smaller than GO trains. A full size train (2 x powered, 2 x unpowered, 2 engines each powered carriage) works out to the same engine capacity as 4 TTC hybrid buses which use the same Cummins engine family. In reality, the economics behind the UPRL are so offbase we are unlikely to see full-schedule/full-capacity UPRL for a loooong time.
I understand Beaulieu made a stupefyingly simplistic statement at the ward 18 debate last night about the province putting a price on health by carrying out the electrification study. Now, I won’t defend Metrolinx, they do some very stupid things, but the reality is that we have to look at all transportation contributions to the airshed and if we did, all of a sudden Mr. Beaulieu might have to answer questions about how soon the TTC was getting out of the diesel bus business and by when. The TTC under his boss have continually dodged the question of why it won’t get trolleybuses to supplement the streetcars on trunk streets where an ROW is impossible (Bathurst) or unlikely (Jane south of Eglinton).
The technical and economic details matter. I strongly support rail electrification; without it, we end up betting the city against an interruption in the supply of petroleum fuels, and I don’t consider that an acceptable bet. But when it comes to pollution as an issue, the good things about this city all depend on our status as a transportation hub, and that means we have to put up with the side effects of transportation. Diesel trains pollute, but less than cars, so overall, more rail, even diesel rail, means less pollution. That suffices for moral justification, even of a diesel rail link.
In Ward 13, we have a three-way race: Nick Pavlov, who seems on track with Rob Ford, Bil Saundercook, Sarah Doucette whom I support, and two others.
Dear Mr. Spragge,
Thank you for passing along the info about the race in your ward.
You up for a little prognostication? Does Ms. Doucette have a chance of knocking off incumbent Saundercook?
We here at All Fired Up in the Big Smoke find it funny that the candidate who you suggest is in the Rob Ford mould goes by the name of Pavlov. How very appropriate.