No Mayor Good Enough For Royson James

October 17, 2011

Far be it from us here at All Fired Up in the Big Smoke to lash out at a fellow Ford basher. It just seems so natural now that the mayor has been revealed to be a complete and utter fraud. Only blinkered partisan hacks and fellow small government travellers could try and argue that’s not the case.

Still, we rankle somewhat reading a feisty, spittin’ mad Royson James tear into Mayor Ford. “City not nearly as broke as mayor suggests.” Is that right, Royson? Seems strange for you to say that since it was only a few short years ago that you hinted almost exactly the opposite.

“The quiet descent into near-bankruptcy is a deliberate strategy by Mayor David Miller and the ruling New Democrats at city hall,” Mr. James wrote back in 2007. “The bankruptcy isn’t deliberate, of course. But the strategy of underplaying its dangers – of governing as if there is a viable plan to right the ship – is a carefully studied one.”

Or how `bout this one?

“If Toronto is near fiscal ruin, as the numbers suggest, why wasn’t this a big talking point in last November’s election?

Why, why, why, why, why?

Because the political handlers didn’t want the mayor [Miller] tarnished or left vulnerable by a volatile election issue. Because no one has the guts to outline the tough road ahead. Because no one wants to be bloodied politically.”

Toronto, according to Royson James, was broke when David Miller was mayor but no one would face up to the fact. Under Mayor Ford, the city is not that broke so could we please stop harping on that it is. A tale of two cities, indeed.

An over-simplification of the Roysonian Jamesonian worldview, obviously, but there is certainly a smattering of hypocrisy to the high dudgeon in which the Toronto Star columnist holds the mayor. It’s almost exactly to the same degree he held the previous mayor. Is no mayor good enough for Royson James?

Granted, it took James a little longer to arrive at a similar level of outrage toward David Miller that he now bears Rob Ford. In fact, way back in 2003, James endorsed Miller in the final days of the election campaign. The blush was off the rose by 2005 and when Miller ran for re-election in 2006, Royson could be seen flirting openly with the competition, Jane Pitfield.

After Miller gained a second term, the gloves came off. James deemed him imperious, out of touch, beholden to unions and other activists, intent only to spend the city into oblivion. Sound familiar?

In late summer 2007, James wrote out 10 points that Mayor Miller needed to hear. Much of it could’ve been the template for Rob Ford’s run for the mayor’s office three years later. Point # 1. Cut councillors’ perks and salaries. (Done and frozen.) Point #3. Open the city’s books to public scrutiny. (Hello KPMG.) Point #8. Announce “Water-Buster” findings. (What do you mean there’s very little gravy, KPMG?)

The inference behind all this was that under the Miller regime, the city was walled off from its citizens and had become bloated, hidden away in the darkness. Royson James helped construct the platform Rob Ford would use to launch his successful bid to become mayor. He greased the rails with alleged gravy that rode David Miller out of town and Rob Ford rode in on.

That very little of it turned out to be true now has Royson James hopping mad. “Every evidence flies in the face of this characterization of wanton waste at city hall,” James writes. “Still, every crumb that falls triggers claims the whole bread is spoiled so let’s can the baker.”

2011 Royson James meet 2007 Royson James. You two should chat, try and clear the air a little bit. Then we’ll pop into the wayback machine and start setting the record straight.

Now, we’ve got no problem with contrarians. Some have brushed us with that very same stroke. Truth needs to be spoken to power. But, in reading through many of James’ columns during the last 5 years of David Miller’s time in office, it’s hard not to get the sense that it was more about having a grudge than having an actual axe to grind.  The animosity such that it extended beyond Miller himself to his apparent heir apparent, Adam Giambrone. No one was more front and centre finishing off Giambrone’s municipal career than Royson James who took self-righteousness and sanctimony to new heights with what should’ve been nothing more than gossip fodder about a public person’s private life.

Royson James worked really hard to rid the city of any vestiges of David Miller. Realizing now the horrors that he help wrought, he seems to have dialled up the indignation and alarm a notch or two. Better late than never, I guess, but if he’d only been a little more diligent, responsible and fair-minded a few years ago, the task ahead of him might not seem so onerous.

miffedly submitted by Cityslikr