Post Mortem Mea Culpa

John Tory will be the next mayor of Toronto. It says something about the rest of the results from yesterday’s municipal election that, this morning, on the day after, I’m largely ambivalent about our new mayor-elect.rosecolouredglasses

Throughout the campaign people I respect told me John Tory would be just fine. Give him a chance, they said. Let him find his sea legs and see what he can do before passing judgement.

So be it.

This morning I’ll choose to believe the John Tory we’ll see emerge as mayor of Toronto will be the John Tory his supporters told us he’d be. Sensible and a consensus builder. Moderate. A healer of our self-inflicted civic wounds.

I say that without a hint of sarcasm or mockery. If John Tory proves to be any of those things, Toronto will be better for it.

I am far less sanguine about the new shape of city council. And by ‘new shape’ I mean the exact opposite, of course. whitelayercakeIf anything, city council got whiter and maler, suggesting that the racist and sexist outbursts we witnessed throughout the campaign and summed up perfectly this week in one cartoon of Olivia Chow by the Toronto Sun’s Andy Donato, weren’t really outliers so much as a reflection of systemic attitudes that belie our municipal motto of Diversity, blah, blah, blah. Electing a white guy mayor was merely the strawberry slice on top of our white bread, penis shaped, white layer cake council we settled on, answering in the affirmative (at least on the political level) Colin Marshall asked in The Guardian yesterday, Has Toronto’s great multicultural project failed?

A resounding number of terrible, terrible, terrible incumbents were re-elected last night with no refreshing or inspiring newcomers figuring into the mix. changeplacesIt’s as if the voters of this city believed that all the trouble and turmoil we went through over the past 4 years could be exorcised simply by switching out mayors. Nobody else was held responsible for the bad decisions that were made. The circus, it was deemed, only had one ringleader, one two-headed ringleader. Remove one of those heads and order would be restored.

Wishful thinking, I think. Pitched battles, I imagine, are already being dreamed up over the fate of rapid transit throughout Scarborough, the island airport expansion, the 2015 budget. Ohhh, the 2015 budget. While the discourse should become more civil around the council chambers, expect little elevation in content, judgment or common sense. I fear we’ve entrenched parochialism not diminished it.meaculpa1

In case you think I’m sitting here, pointing fingers at others, assigning blame in that direction, that is not my intention. Perhaps the most egregious bit of wishful thinking over the past 4 years was perpetrated by people like me. People who thought that simply by highlighting and talking and writing about the bad behaviour and decisions being done by our local representatives, a wave of change would be fomented. The need for it would simply be self-evident. I mistakenly assumed the clamour for change at the mayoral level would permeate down through the council ranks and sweep out a few of the worst offenders.

You’d think by now I’d be aware enough to know that change doesn’t happen easily. When it comes, if it comes, it comes reluctantly, grudgingly, obstinately. Change is an active not passive verb.

So to imagine that voters would simply be in the mood to throw the bums out with very little prodding was beyond hopeful. It was beyond magical subways for free thinking. duginWe had a record turnout at the polls this time out and, aside from at the mayoral level, the status quo was overwhelmingly endorsed. We want to change that? There’s no waiting until 2018. It’s a conversation that happens today, tomorrow. (OK. Maybe in a couple weeks after everybody catches their collective breath.)

How many times have we heard the complaint around these parts, Where is our Nenshi? To use the parlance of our transit debates, Nenshis don’t sprout up out of nowhere from magic beans. The ground has to be fertile from many hands working the soil. If we learn no other lesson from this municipal election of ours, it should be the change we want will never be delivered from the top down with only some urging by us from the sidelines. It’s only going to happen bottom up.

Actually, there’s one more thing.changeishard

Probably the most striking visual for me from last night’s post-election coverage was Rob Ford’s speech in which he warned us that the Ford’s ‘never, ever, ever give up’. I think that may be the most truthful thing I’ve ever heard the man say. The status quo is relentless. The forces of white privilege, racism and exclusion are relentless. The apple cart is heavier than it looks and isn’t flipped with a simple gesture. We have to push back, and push back hard.

2018 doesn’t start in 2018. It starts now. Rob Ford has warned us. This time we better be ready.

unsagely submitted by Cityslikr

17 Responses to Post Mortem Mea Culpa

  1. Surster says:

    The two biggest shockers for me were Mammoliti and DiGiorgio getting back in. I don’t get it. Even Rob Ford winning so overwhelmingly in Ward 2. Where were the voters for DiNizio? Lekan? Andray? Just proves to me that people bitch and complain about their Councillor but when push comes to shove, they vote for the devil they know so they can continue to bitch and complain. It’s like a ginormous circle-jerk of bitch, complain, repeat! And the various endorsements of Dory Chalhoub to replace Nunziata? That gave me and others the biggest giggle of the night! Chalhoub was actually trounced by an invisible candidate – Jose Garcia – who never attended a debate, never knocked on a door, didn’t send out a flyer (that I saw). That tells you exactly what people thought of Chalhoub in the end — a big poser. Like a shiny nugget of gold that you scratch to find tin underneath. Votes for Garcia were the ‘protest’ vote against Nunziata but not overwhelmingly. Say what you will about Frances — she gets stuff done for people and that’s what they remember. Like Rob Ford does. Ward 11 has a lot of different balls being juggled right now, development wise — this is our make or break era. She will be watched and hopefully will rise to the occasion.

    • Ron Wheeler says:

      Nunziata is a short skin-bag full of hatred and stupidity. She won on name recognition only and certainly NOT on her work in the ward.

      • squibbs2014 says:

        Well, Ron, that’s one opinion. If you had spoken to me just 3 years ago, I might have agreed with you. However, the past 2 years has seen a more ‘user friendly’ Councillor who collaborates, listens and is working pretty hard behind the scenes to get some really good development going. If you are heritage minded, she has never waivered on her commitment to the community to protect assets. Is she perfect — no. Never said she was. But the last 2 years have been pretty different. I spent over 10 years being adversarial with her, so I can honestly say she is much easier to work with and get stuff done. If you haven’t had to work with her closely, you wouldn’t have seen this transition. She turned from being mainly an ‘I’ person to more of a ‘We’ person. I’ll take that any day if it means a better community! Maybe I and others are just deluded…. who knows!

  2. Simon Says says:

    The main take away from last night, Ford Nation is still and will be political force to reckon with. Incumbency is political privilege. The downtown will become more of a political progressive island in the changing demographics and political view points of the amalgamated suburbs which will become more conservative as we continue to have a progressive immigration policy.

    • squibbs2014 says:

      Simon Says — you can still be ‘progressive’ and ‘conservative’, they aren’t mutually exclusive. They weren’t until Harris came to town. The problem with most people is that they pigeon-hole themselves into believing that if they vote for Chow, they must be left-wing, NDP, Socialist. If you vote for Tory, you are a downtown elitist with high-flying friends. If you vote for Ford, well, that’s self-evident. Those categorizations make me bat-shit crazy. I have voted NDP in every election except for 1 since 1982. Did I vote for Chow? Nope. I voted for John Tory. Why? Because I truly believe he is the best candidate for this City. Based on a variety of observations and not conjecture. Does that make me Conservative? And I live in what supposedly is ‘Ford Nation’. Some of us are progressive, vote the issues not the party.

  3. torontopeter says:

    It really bothers me that the same players we saw in the last council (and maybe the one before that?? I don’t remember) are still going to be around. 37/38. Unbelieveable. Like the last council was that effective. Oh yes, let’s give them a 37/38 on their exam – they performed so amazingly well last time. I don’t care what side of the political spectrum they’re on – what a clown / gong / shit-show that last council was.

    How the hell were these people re-elected?
    Mammoliti
    Nunziata
    Di Giorgio
    Palacio
    De Baeremaker
    Thompson
    Davis
    McConnell
    Minnan-Wong
    Cho
    ???????

    Having said that I’m ecstatic that we now have a responsible, moderate, amiable, intelligent, calm, professional, socially progressive-fiscally conservative, not-paranoid, stable, reliable, experienced, connected, diplomatic Mayor. I forgot how one of those felt like.

    Maybe this blog will come around to realizing how lucky we will be to have this kind of Mayor.

    • squibbs2014 says:

      I agree with some of your choices like I mentioned in my first post but Nunziata has done more in the past 2 years than in the previous 10. If you don’t live and work in a Ward, it’s hard to see all that’s done. You only see what happens at City Hall when they are scratching each others eyes out. That’s why I have been defending her to the likes of this site and the Star — endorsing someone based on the fact that they are not the incumbent and they sound good on paper is not enough. And it’s lazy. Obviously we either have low information voters out there, not enough people paying attention or taking interest or they really like their Councillor. We live in a system that allows this to happen, so suck it up buttercups! And totally agree with your assessment of Tory — couldn’t have said it better myself! 🙂

    • Ron Wheeler says:

      Was Janet Davis a misprint…’cause she has been an injection of humanity into the council proceedings..

  4. jrootham says:

    If you want to reduce the power of incumbency you need to bring in political parties, and/or multi member wards.

  5. RogerB says:

    I was talking with people at the voting station, who were anxious to vote due to the Mayor. They were shocked when informed that they would also be voting for a Councillor and School board trustee, and hadn’t ‘prepared’ for the decision. Good chance the incumbent got those votes.
    With high turnout over the mayoral race, incumbency is huge, particularly with distracted or less politically attuned residents. All the winners put their money and time into election signs for a reason.

    • There are some peoele that do not realize they can leave categories, Mayor Councillor, school trustee blank. They feel if they do it will spoil the ballot.

      • RogerB says:

        We were told to fill out the three categories and not told about options to leave any blank. I assume that most people who weren’t aware that they were supposed to vote this time for three categories would not know that they had the choice of filling out only those they wanted to.

  6. Liz says:

    I am surprised and pleased with the TDSB results with 11 out of 22 wards electing new trustees. Some wards were vacant due to retirements but incumbents were defeated most notably Sam Sotiropoulos. Depressing that Michael Ford won in Etobicoke but the new board should be interesting to watch!

  7. Jeff says:

    Olivia: “O time, thou must untangle this knot, not I.”

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