For me the really interesting aspect of yesterday’s Etobicoke-York Community Council’s nomination process for its preferred candidate to replace Doug Holyday as city councillor for Ward 3 was just how predictable it all was. Much is made of how name recognition plays a major factor in voting at the municipal level. Well, it seems even our elected representatives are more than a little star struck when it comes to making their selections.
In the end it was all about the names. Chris Stockwell. John Nunziata. Even Agnes Potts, for those watching Etobicoke politics over the last 20 years, had a certain name recognition as a former school board trustee and pre-amalgamation councillor.
It makes sense. Savvy political operators take 5 minutes to wow the crowd with a rousing stump speech, outlining all the positive ways they will contribute to the community they’ve been appointed to represent. What’s a neophyte outsider to do in the face of that?
Yet, aside from Ms. Potts who stressed her work in the community over the time she spent as an elected official, the frontrunners fizzled at the mic. Never mind the forgettable performances of non-pols like Holyday’s choice, Peter Leon, or the Ford blessed Ross Vaughan. John Nunziata did little more than read off his CV and pledge not to run in Ward 3 in next year’s general election.
The community council’s eventual nominee, Chris Stockwell, was hardly more inspired. In what amounted to an extended shrug, Stockwell said, “I’m simply coming here saying, if you want someone who can hit the ground running and knows how politics works, I’m available.”
Certainly there’s something to that. With barely over a year left in the term, all a complete newcomer to City Hall would be able to accomplish is keeping their head above the water, what with the rope learning they’d be doing. A place holder in every sense of the word.
But aside from his experience — over 20 years in fact, first as an Etobicoke city councillor, then a Metro councillor before moving on to Queen’s Park — there was little talk from Stockwell about stepping forward as a public service. When asked why he wanted the job, his response? After 10 years as a private citizen, he ‘missed it’.
You’d think that kind of statement alone would disqualify him in the eyes of someone like Councillor Doug Ford who hates career politicians. Just another fat cat coming for one last slurp at the trough. Where’s your business sense, Stockwell? Your talk of Lean Six Sigma?
But Councillor Ford had other things on his mind during this whole process.
Along with his mayor-brother and newly re-allied Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti, the councillor was still smarting from the grave injustice done to them Ward 3 by city council in voting against a by-election to replace Holyday. Leftists at City Hall were just itching to further deny them Ward 3 their rightful representation and were all probably gathering together in their coven, looking to impose their will on them Ward 3 with a downtown pinko elite cyclist appointee.
So deep was their suspicion that Councillor Mammoliti tried pushing through a referral motion until they could secure a guarantee that the Etobicoke-York Community Council’s decision would be supreme. Much of the motion was ruled out of order by city staff and the Ford Brothers reluctantly agreed that they had to push on with council’s July mandate in selecting a replacement, regardless of the ultimate will of the people to have a by-election. It was just yet another sad example of how downtown was sticking it to the suburbs.
Nothing would serve this narrative better than if council ignored the recommendation of Etobicoke-York Community Council and appointed someone other than Chris Stockwell as the new Ward 3 councillor. A narrative, coincidentally, the Fords seem to be pushing a lot in the run up to next year’s election campaign. For 4 years, Mayor Ford has been trying to serve the folks of Toronto to the best of his abilities but city council just keeps getting in the way. Not appointing Chris Stockwell would be a perfect illustration of this and give the mayor plenty of ammunition.
And who better to get the downtown lefties’ collective backs up than a former muckie-muck in the Mike Harris government that killed the Eglinton subway and forced amalgamation on Toronto? My guess is, the Ford faction didn’t give a shit about Stockwell’s qualifications or the reasons he wanted the gig. He provided the best opportunity for council to do their bidding and appoint someone else.
Which it shouldn’t, of course. If precedent has it that city council essentially rubber stamps a community council’s choice for appointment, that’s what should happen next week with Chris Stockwell. Not only for the crass reasons of denying Mayor Ford his perfect talking points going forward but because this particular by-election/appointment situation was highly contentious, its outcome rife with questions and concerns of Ward 3 residents as merely after-thoughts in the battle between the mayor and council. This won’t be the last time an appointment process will occur. Council should endeavour to keep it as orderly and grounded in rules as possible.
Besides, I think it’ll be interesting to see Stockwell in action again. By all accounts he was as funny and engaging as he was pugnacious. It’s not as if he can be any more right-leaning and mayor-friendly than the man he would be replacing. It’ll be fun watching someone who was part of the team that created so many of the problems this city faces now try and chip in with some solutions.
— positively submitted by Cityslikr