Fringe Candidates

There was much talk around these offices last fall as the municipal election campaign wound down toward its ugly, ugly conclusion. Strategic voting or mark an X with your heart, or simply pack up and head somewhere more reasonable for the following 4 years. (Have you been reading Toronto Life again? — ed.) How best to try and stop the Ford juggernaut? Don’t go getting all high and mighty with me, mister. Splitting the left of centre vote will only help his cause. Yes, I do think there are fewer worse case scenario’s than the prospect of a Mayor Rob Ford.

In the end, none of it mattered. Our current mayor won with a big enough plurality that nearly all of the 3rd place finisher Joe Pantalone voters would’ve had to throw in their lot with the eventual runner-up, George Smitherman, to overtake the frontrunner. Smitherman simply had not made that possible. (Nor are we convinced Toronto would be faring any better under a Smitherman mayoralty. A big sigh of relief from residents followed by a slow, perhaps even imperceptible bleed, rather than a gashing head wound. — ed.)

My Pantalone vote sat OK with me. I was not a displeased Torontonian under the Miller administration and Pantalone, despite his underwhelming campaign style, made the case that the city was on the right track. Or, if not on the right track, hadn’t derailed as all the other leading candidates for the office claimed. Certainly, 10 months after the fact, his accusations of the other leading candidates being mini-Mike Harris’s, bent on re-configuring Toronto into another Buffalo or Detroit has something of a ring to truth to it. Oh, the mockery and derision Pantalone received from the others for his scare-mongering. Rob Ford ‘guaranteed’ no such thing would happen under his watch.

My colleague here felt no such peace of mind in defeat. His candidate for mayor, HiMY SYeD, to whom he felt far greater attachment to than I did toward Joe Pantalone, not only lost but lost big. Crushed. 31 of 40 bidders for mayor with a paltry .071% of the popular vote. The very definition of a fringe candidate.

Few folks here were surprised about the outcome. Despite a huge social network presence, Mr. SYeD failed to get himself included in any of the countless debates. Any press he did manage to garner came with the ‘fringe’ adjective attached. Expectations of some sort of Nenshi miracle were nothing short of delusional. (Yeah, alright. We get your point. — ed.) To vote for HiMY SYeD; to waste your vote. (I said we get it. Is that really a proper use of a semi-colon? — ed.)

Yet, as I sat watching Mr. SYeD’s deputation at last month’s marathon Executive Committee meeting, I began to wonder about the ‘fringe’ designation. Certainly he was only one of countless Torontonians who delivered passionate, articulate, highly informed presentations to committee members who almost all possess none of those attributes. Passion maybe, but not toward city building so much as city shredding. These were the candidates deemed worthy of serious consideration and here they were, being schooled on what makes a city work.

Think back over the antics and shenanigans on display by many of these councillors during the course of the last 10 months. Giorgio Mammoliti? By any measure except for electoral success, he should be thought of as a fringe candidate. Doug Ford? Only someone out on the fringes would have the ease to say the things that come out from his mouth. Didn’t Councillor Cesar Palacio express surprise at how little rent the city was charging some Toronto Community Housing tenants? How long does one have to be in office before learning the first thing about social housing? 6 months? 6 years? Or at least possess a sense of self-awareness that edits such obliviousness before you can send it along for public consumption.

And Mayor Ford himself. A career long fringe councillor, unable to get along with almost all of his colleagues for a decade and still woefully unsure just how municipal government works. Nothing he has done since assuming office has alleviated the feeling that he has no idea what he’s doing except for an ability to bully through his fringe ideas. If it wasn’t obvious before the election (It was. — ed.) it is painfully on display now that he is frighteningly out of his depth. We handed over the keys to City Hall to a fringe candidate.

We obviously need a new definition for the word ‘fringe’. Perhaps devising a means test for anyone seeking elected office. It should start with the question: Do you believe that there is a positive role for government in society. No yes or no responses please. Answers must be longer than can fit on a bumper sticker.

It would assist us in determining who is a fringe candidate and not leave it in the hands of some arbitrary adjudicator. (Yes, we’re looking at you, CityTV — ed.) Being fringe shouldn’t be about who you don’t know or how much money you don’t have access to. It’s ideas that count, and true fringe candidates are always incapable of coming up with any good ones of those. (Like I was saying all last year. — ed.)

houndedly submitted by Urban Sophisticat




7 thoughts on “Fringe Candidates

  1. Hey Cat; talk radio host Jerry Agar says “Ford won a majority of the votes and he can do what he was elected to do”(paraphrase) but looks to be a liar and promise breaker. BTW Statistically he won about 47% of votes cast & about 47.11% counted.

    I see he is going to the Province for more revenue! He already turned down a nurse to help immigrants and a nurse to help the poor even though Toronto gets transfers of $1.88 billion. He looks to be turning down another 3 nurses who would help out the bed bug problem?!

    P.S. Bachmann won the Ames Straw Poll. Historically, the winner does not go on to win the Republican Presidential nomination. Rick Perry has joined & has been described as George W. Bush on steriods.(raised eye brow)

  2. Rick Salutin complains about democracy only coming calling once every four years. Every voter, I imagine, in the outer suburbs has alloted about ten minutes to decide who to vote for for mayor. Ford says “gravy,” and everyone starts to salivate. They vote for him because he looks destructive and maybe even because he sounds dumber than they do. They don’t give a shit who’s mayor. If the intelligensia were the only ones voting, Mr. Syed would be mayor and he’d be better. Down with democracy!

  3. yeah mike layton was a fringe candidate ,parachuted in on the ndp name and has been a dismal failure.So whats your point?Media ignored the protests in front of cp24 to get Himy to the “table” and without exposure how can anybody know what a candidate stands for?We need to hear the candidates not the meaningless drivel of media pundits who have free press and infinite exposure to the public that candidates never have.

  4. I would like to see a ‘means test’ for mayoral candidates along the lines of requiring proof of significant leadership or public service experience, like director-level or above at a non-profit or for-profit organization with at least 100 employees, or at least previous experience in elected office.

    Himy Syed seems charming and intelligent but has a huge experience gap when it comes to working with others. Same goes for many of the other ‘fringers’.

    George, I think you’re a sore loser. Mike Layton has had a few minor missteps IMO but is overall doing a good job supporting the progressive side of council.

  5. This is the problem with fringe candidates.

    They are beyond bloody stupid. They leave no contact information what so bloddy ever.

    Do you remember that “people’s debate” we were organizing? Where none of the main stream media’s picks got elected? Himy Syed, Sonny Yeung, etc….?
    We had so many issues there.

    Now this time around we want to interview all 23 candidates for each of the four main parties. Plus their leaders.

    So 96 people.

    Here is what happened so far:

    LIB and CON replied back, NDP/GRE did not.
    LIB doesn’t have a candidate for Davenport
    CON doesn’t have a candidate for Etobicoke North
    NDP does not have a list of candidates on their website.
    LIB does have a list of candidates on their website.
    CON does have a list of candidates on their website.
    GRE does not have a list of candidates on their website.

    LIB and GRE have their HQ 5 minute walk from each other.

    I could go to the GRE’s headquarters and ask them nicely then go to Richmond Street East where the NDP’s HQ is.

    But why should I? we all know the GRE have the least amount of chance, we give them a chance and zippo.

    I live in east end Scarborough.

    Torontonians should not have to go to the candidates, it should be the other way around.

    By the way, the idea of interviews is so Torontonians are FULLY INFORMED OF THEIR CHOICES.

    But as usual in every election there is a sense of entitlement from candidates of all parties that think it is a “privilege” of speaking with them.


  6. Let’s take Himy (HiMY) seriously … first he should take things seriously. Why not run for council first … get his feet wet … make a name for himself, like Wong-Tam or for that matter, like Matlow. Get known! After a successful run as a councillor he could then join the race for mayor and would certainly find himself on stage with other potential candidates. Walking in off the street with fists pounding and head shaking isn’t going to cut it.

    HiMY SYeD … why the upper and lower case letters?

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