L’état C’est Moi

March 23, 2012

Standing outside City Hall yesterday after the transit vote, I noticed a man holding a cardboard placard. I couldn’t read the sign at first glance, only noticing the person holding it. He was somewhat bedraggled, leaving me to assume he was one of those street corner religious types. John 3:16 or other words condemning those to hell who did not accept Jesus Christ as our lord and saviour.

When I finally did catch sight of the front of the sign, my assumption was proven only mildly incorrect. “The Will Of Council Does Not Supersede The Will Of The People”. Not religion as much as misplaced faith.

The schism is complete then. You are either with Mayor Ford or you are against the will of the people of Toronto. As the mayor stated after his latest council defeat on transit, “This is an election issue. Obviously the campaign starts now.”

You remember how that plays out. We just wrapped one up, less than 18 months ago. Rob Ford as the outsider, on the hustings, railing against a bloated, mismanaged and quite possibly corrupt City Hall with a spending problem not a revenue problem.

He kicked off Re-Election 2014 with a fiery speech yesterday, full of misplaced indignation and highly dubious claims that came across as little more than a temper tantrum. In the face of certain defeat – How certain? Team Ford QB and avowed LRT hater Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti didn’t alter previous plans in order to attend the vote. Why bother if you’re going to lose anyway? – Mayor Ford simply lashed out, burned bridges and delivered a big ‘Fuck You’ to his council colleagues and the democratic process.

Watching the speech, you’d think council members, regardless of political stripe, would slowly step back away from the mayor, smiling politely while maintaining eye contact as one does when dealing with any sort of raving lunatic. Surprisingly, 18 councillors stood with Mayor Ford to back his ill-thought out and unfunded subway plan. Sure, many bemoaned his lack of leadership on the issue but followed up by playing along and allowing the mayor to continue with the charade of having a sensible transit plan.

Councillor David Shiner took it one step further, greasily muddying the waters to suggest there was a lack of leadership by everyone on the transit issue. Actually no, Councillor Shiner, but nice try though. TTC Chair Karen Stintz led a coalition of right of centre, centre and left of centre councillors in assuming control of an issue the mayor could not get past empty campaign rhetoric on.

That’s how democracy works around these parts. A mayor is given a head start in setting the agenda, has a certain rump of votes to work with but then it’s up to them to cobble together 23+ votes. There’s no rule that a mayor has to win every vote, not even really important ones.

This isn’t about dysfunction at City Hall. The inmates are not running the asylum. It’s not a clown show or a farce. This is how municipal politics operates. We just don’t recognize what’s going on currently because this is our introduction to a renegade mayor.

In an excellent piece yesterday, John Lorinc pointed out the two remaining items of the mayor’s 2010 election mandate: repealing the Land Transfer Tax and cutting councillor numbers in half. With all the talk of new revenue tools that emerged during the transit debate, it’s laughable to think Mayor Ford could convince 22 councillors to junk a very important source of revenue for the city. If any consensus arose out of the transit battle, it was the need for more revenue not less. Repealing the LTT should be a non-starter.

Leaving the reduction of councillors from 44 to 22 as the remaining plank in his 2010 campaign platform to fulfill.

What I expect to happen in the next little while is an attempted conflation of this pledge with a demand for accountability to the taxpayers from city council. ‘The Will Of Council Does Not Supersede The Will Of The People’. Council’s out of control, folks. They denied you subways. Fewer councillors mean more control for the people, more respect for taxpayers.

Never mind the illogical of that sentiment. Logic has never been part of Mayor Ford’s mandate. Fewer councillors mean less representation for the people of Toronto. Yet it’s going to ring true to those who saw the triumph of LRTs over subways as proof positive of the meddlesomeness of council. Reduce the number of councillors and you’ll increase the power of the mayor.

Of course, it’s hard to imagine 22 councillors agreeing to put their jobs in jeopardy. There’ll be some support from the diehardest of diehard supporters of the mayor, and maybe a sprinkling of those not planning to run for office again. Even with the possible realignment of wards, a reduction probably won’t be done before 2014 election.

Which will be the point Mayor Ford attempts to capitalise on. They’re only in it for themselves, folks. Too many cooks in the kitchen. They denied me my mandate, your mandate, our mandate. Help me rid City Hall of these troublesome councillors. Re-elect Rob Ford in 2014 and I can finally get around to doing the job you elected me to do in 2010.

clairvoyantly submitted by Cityslikr