(Today marks the 4th anniversary of our very, very first post here at All Fired Up in the Big Smoke that coincided, not coincidentally, with the official launch of the 2010 municipal campaign. To commemorate such an auspicious milestone — not quite 5 years but more than 3 years — a friend of the site suggested we re-run a few of the oldies but goldies so that we could look back over the political landscape to see what’s changed, what’s stayed the same. A retrospective, if you will. Also, a great space filler in a pinch.)
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It’s January 4th. The gates have flung open and the fake rabbit is running for its pretend life. Nomination papers and fees are now being accepted, meaning that the October 25th municipal elections across the province of Ontario are officially underway. Let the excitement commence!!
Here in Toronto, it has been a fall and winter of intense speculation after our incumbent mayor, David Miller, announced his decision not to
smoke crack any more seek a third term. A few folks have already tossed their hats into the ring, with a few more certain to do so in the coming days and weeks. So we here at All Fired Up…begin our posting in what won’t be, hopefully, a trademark negative fashion in listing off who and what we will not [A bold and underlined emphasis. Ouch! — ed.] be looking for in a mayoral candidate.
1) John Tory. [Yes, really. That very same John Tory. — ed.]
Fuzzy conventional wisdom has it that Tory took a spirited run at the job in 2003, losing a close race to the eventual winner, David Miller. Well, at least the last bit is true. It was close, 43% to 38%, but the fact of the matter is that it was Tory’s race to lose. And he lost. A higher profile candidate usually always translates into a win at the municipal level but Tory was simply out-thought and out-campaigned by a relatively obscure councilman.
It is a trend that continued in Tory’s subsequently brief political career as MPP and provincial Conservative leader. In the 2007 election, running against a Liberal government with soft support, he chose to run on a single issue platform of extending funding to religious schools. I mean, wh-wh-WHAT?!? That was the burning issue he felt would rally Ontario voters would rally `round the Conservative banner? After failing to secure a seat in the legislature in a by-election, Tory was chased from the party.. err… retired. This is a man who could not corral a dispirited but homogenous caucus like the provincial Conservatives. How on earth could he handle a much more fractious, divergent city council?
My advice? Stick with radio, John, where we can continue to ignore you. [In hindsight, terrible advice. Mr. Tory should’ve done us all a favour and steered clear of the trash and bile of talk radio while concentrating all his focus on more civic-minded pursuits like, well, CivicAction Alliance. — ed.]
2) Anyone who ever had anything whatsoever to do with the bumbling, idiotic, lamentable, bat shit crazy Mel Lastman regime. (That’s at least strike 3 against John Tory who was a certified — certifiable? — member of Lastman’s “kitchen cabinet”.) While there’s been much empty, idle chatter about the mess left behind by Mayor Miller, just cast your mind back to 2003. City Hall was a putrid, corrupt, dysfunctional operation. Toronto was an international joke. Who the hell’s the W.H.O. anyway? The best thing Lastman ever did for this city was go over to Africa to woo delegates for Toronto’s ill-fated 2008 Olympic bid. When he started yammering on about cannibals and being boiled for soup, he secured Beijing the games, thereby getting us off the hook for the inevitable transfer of millions, if not billions, of dollars from the public purse to private hands for the honour of hosting the Olympics.
So any of you out there who hitched your political wagon to the Lastman star and are thinking of running for mayor… don’t! Nobody but your family, the insane and some guy named Yorrick M. Buntleyfomstaderam III [WTF?! — ed.] is going to vote for you. NOOOOOO-BODY!!! [Looking back, a quaint concern, the Lastman administration. If local conservatism were still so ineffectual and benign. — ed.]
3) Candidates running on a platform against “tax & spenders” [Not referring to Rob Ford here. — ed.] and who vow “to get city hall’s fiscal house in order” [Again, not a Rob Ford reference. — ed.], along with every other neo-conservative bromide that is as empty as the head (or as bald) [See? Not Rob Ford. — ed.] that spouts them. Toronto, like most sizeable municipalities in the province, country, and continent, see substantially more money exit their jurisdictions and into the coffers of senior levels of government than it gets back in terms of cash and services provided. No “trimming of the fat” or “belt tightening” or union busting [Remember. Rob Ford had not entered the race at this point. — ed.] is going to change that fact. And until this is addressed and cities given the comprehensive fiscal and governing tools necessary to function properly, there’s always going to be annual budgetary crises and threats to services that make a city livable.
So, we want to hear it. Tell us… oh, candidates for the office of Mayor in 2010… tell us how you’re going to fix that situation. Are you going to stand up to the provincial and federal governments and demand an equal seat at the table when it comes to making decisions that affect your city? Give us your vision about repositioning our city in terms of political power sharing. How do you think the 2006 City of Toronto Act can be better utilized to secure the tools to keep this city prospering, vital, and equitable for all of its citizens, both downtown and in the fraying suburbs? Talk to us like we’re engaged citizens and not drooling infants, easily impressed with easy answers and shiny objects.
[The important takeaway from this, aside from the rather over-the-top know-it-allism of the prose stylings which we here at All Fired Up in the Big Smoke have clearly pulled back on over the course of the past 4 years and a woeful lack of highly original graphics, is that from the outset, the 2010 municipal campaign was one of negative ideas. A narrative of retrenchment, months before Rob Ford entered the race and took firm control of it. Given what’s transpired since then, hopefully we’ve all learned our lesson as we gear up for Election 2014. — ed.]
— so says Cityslikr