Has Anybody Seen Your Councillor, Ward 36?

On those very few occasions we are called upon to think about Councillor Gary Crawford (Ward 36 Scarborough Southwest), something like this immediately comes to mind.

blackout

No. That’s not quite right. Too much personality. It’s more like this.

whitebox

Tabula rasa. A blank slate. An empty space.

Three years into this councillor’s first term and I really have no idea what drives him, what compels him to serve at City Hall. He plays drums for a band that performs at Ford Fest BBQs. He painted a portrait of Mayor Ford that was commissioned by the mayor’s mom. These things we do know.mayorfordportrait1

Aside from that, pretty much bupkis. He’s like Councillor Mark Grimes (Ward 6 Etobicoke-Lakeshore) minus the bow tie and good ol’ boy charm.

I exaggerate slightly.

Councillor Crawford has stood up and generally spoken in favour of the arts and arts funding. He’s been the point man for the mayor on the self-congratulatory distribution of the increase in per capita arts spending from the court delayed billboard tax the previous administration initiated. He… uh… ummm… Did I mention the councillor plays drums in a band that performs at Ford Fest? He is also a painter, did I point that out already?

After that, well, it’s all…

whitebox

As a member of perhaps the two highest profile standing committees, Executive and Budget, you’d think we might’ve heard more from Councillor Crawford from time to time. But I swear to god. You can attend those meetings and never know the councillor’s in the room. He is. He sits there a lot. Doing what? I don’t know. Maybe just waiting to vote. Maybe dreaming of being Ringo Starr.

The councillor’s pretty close to mute during city council meetings as well. ringoWhen he does stand to speak or ask questions of staff, it’s very rarely memorable. The last thing I remember hearing from him was his support for a Scarborough subway. Pretty much par for the course for councillors from Scarborough.

So left to judge Councillor Crawford’s political views almost exclusively by the votes he casts at council (like I said, there’s not much else to go on), he veers pretty much hard right. He’s voted along with Mayor Ford over 80% of the time during the course of the entire term. Even during this terrible, terrible year for the mayor who’s wound up on the wrong side of many issues, Councillor Crawford has been right there with him over 3/4s of the time.

Compare that with fellow Scarborough councillors Michelle Berardinetti (Ward 35 Scarborough Southwest) and Paul Ainslie (Ward 43 Scarborough East), former strong allies, both of whom have created a gaping chasm of distance between themselves and the mayor now.

You can draw a couple conclusions from that.

One, Council Crawford puts loyalty to the mayor above all else. You don’t just turn your back on a guy because he’s going through a rough patch. notwithhimThere’s got to be a carrot and a stick. Vote to take away his powers and you paint a picture of him.

Second, Councillor Gary Crawford is an ideological far right conservative. Not as far right as the mayor or the mayor’s brother but still comfortably in that camp.

The question is, does that reflect the general feeling in his ward? His predecessor in Ward 36, Brian Ashton fell out with then mayor David Miller over the implementation of the Vehicle Registration and Land Transfer taxes and eventually resigned from the Executive Committee because of his opposition. But to think of Brian Ashton as a hardcore conservative, an ideological soul mate of the likes of Rob Ford is something of a stretch.

At this juncture in his tenure as first term councillor, that’s pretty much all Gary Crawford has. Being a strong ally of Mayor Rob Ford. What else is there? I’m all ears if anyone can think of anything else.

That’s a pretty thin and fraying string to hoist up his re-election bid with. Since Crawford barely squeaked into office in 2010, winning an open ward with just over 25% of the popular vote, you’d think he would’ve pieced together a stronger rope to swing on than that. I don’t know. defiantonesMaybe he busks on street corners in Ward 36, playing the drums and generating name recognition that way. Does those caricature drawings of passers-by in between sets. He certainly hasn’t established himself in any meaningful fashion in his role as councillor at City Hall.

You’d think residents would want their elected representative to contribute a little more to the life of the city than that.

curiously submitted by Cityslikr

10 Responses to Has Anybody Seen Your Councillor, Ward 36?

  1. glenn storey says:

    dear mr. slikr – i pretty much always agree with you, but if you’re slagging ringo (i’m not sure if you are or not), i take exception. ringo starr is awesome, full stop.

  2. Sonny says:

    Crawford is in a band that plays the Ford Fests; Gently Bent. Gary is also part of the Budget Committee & Exec. worthy of being defeated among the 2010 Class.
    If Ford is so efficient why ask the Province for money? He said the City was prepared for a winter storm so we got the ice storm, polar vortex & now flooding?

    P.S. of course Ford for pot decriminalization

  3. Sonny says:

    When Miller was up for re-election in 2006, only 1 incumbent was defeated by Peruzza and there were 7 vacancies mostly in Scarborough; Perks, Vaughan, Parker, Heaps, Lee, Moeser & Ainslie(who promised not to run) previously had the Ward 41 appointment

  4. Alice says:

    I wish Sonny would run against Gary. He at least knows what is going on in Scarborough.
    Gary is having a budget town hall at Scarborough Village this Monday night from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
    hopefully some of you will attend.

  5. Simon Says says:

    Mr. CitySlikr, you seem to have all the answers and solutions to what ails this city. You need to run for city council and align yourself with the Perks and the Vaughans to bring about real change, instead of pontificating on your blog.

  6. Sonny says:

    Dear Simon, why don’t you and GW start the “all fired up in the crack smoke” site to engage your ilk?

    • GW says:

      Sonny, I’m not quite sure what you consider our “ilk” to be, but you seem to be implying that Simon Says and I are Ford supporters. I haven’t read enough of Simon’s posts to be able to offer an opinion with regard to his views, but I’m puzzled as to how you’ve come to that conclusion about me. As someone who lives and thoroughly enjoys a suburban lifestyle, I am simply bothered by the contempt, snobbery and condescension that suburbanites in Toronto, the GTA and elsewhere so often have to endure from a small but highly vocal group of Toronto urbanites. That doesn’t make me a member of Ford Nation, but it does allow me to understand where they’re coming from.

      Put it this way. If one wanted to turn a politically unaligned suburbanite into a Ford Nation member, the best place to start would be to get that person to read Christopher Hume’s Toronto Star articles, followed by some of the less guarded posts of certain downtown bloggers. Some of these folks may claim that they’re only attacking the “built form” and not the people therein, but in swinging their rhetorical clubs wildly at the ghost of Robert Moses, they’re often connecting (and not always by accident) with the very real people who have chosen to make less dense, more car-centric communities their homes.

      Many of the downtowners most contemptuous of the suburbs and their denizens seem to have come from there originally. Sorry, that doesn’t excuse the disrespect they show to those still living there and those who have chosen to move there. I respect those who have chosen to live in a denser environment and surrender some personal space and privacy in exchange for proximity to transit and walkability. I have different priorities and tastes, and have no desire to dictate how anyone else should live.

  7. Stevedore says:

    Crawford is my councillor; I have been thoroughly unimpressed with him at every turn. He is an ideological Scarborough subway pusher, but he isn’t informed. Take this tweet from February 5:

    “They are closing the SRT for 3hrs. Still think above ground transit is better than a subway? I’ll take a subway over an LRT any day.”

    As transit riders know, the subway tracks in Ward 36 (Victoria Park-Kennedy) are largely above ground.

    http://www.blogto.com/city/2013/09/a_cellular_service_map_of_the_toronto_subway/

    Unfortunately, I’m not aware of anyone running to replace him in Ward 36. Here’s hoping someone emerges.

  8. […] Ward 36 is represented by Gary Crawford. Like Michelle Berardinetti, Crawford was first elected in 2010, replacing retiring long-time city councillor Brian Ashton. Before being elected as city councillor, Crawford ran in 2007 for the Ontario Progressive Conservatives. Crawford was a reliable Ford ally right through 2013; he even painted a portrait of the disgraced mayor for the Ford family and was a drummer for a band that played at Ford Fests. Otherwise, he was one of the quietest of Toronto’s city councillors. […]

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