Birds Of A Feather

January 21, 2013

Suppose sometime over the course of the next couple weeks or so, Mayor Ford’s conflict of interest appeal is upheld and he’s officially tossed from office. Suppose not assume because, waiting2for me at least, my assumptions over the last 3 years have been woefully off the mark, starting with my early mirth about the improbable prospect of a ‘Mayor Rob Ford.’ Here, there be no more assumptions.

But let’s do suppose the courts toss him from office.

Much has been made of the Candidate from The Left who would best oppose him. Olivia Chow? Councillors Adam Vaughan and Shelley Carroll? All with the inevitable concern for vote splitting between them, allowing the mayor to slip up through the middle to another unlikely election win.

But recently, there’s been chatter about the right. bowlingsplitThis poses as equal if not greater threat to the mayor than any sort of alignment on the left, I think. A split on the right side of the spectrum would probably be fatal to his re-election chances unless somehow the left fragmented into tiny little pieces which, after 2010, I don’t see happening.

That’s assuming (ooops!) there’s a vote at all. Council could simply appoint a mayor instead of electing to have a by-election. Re-appointing Mayor Ford has been seriously floated by the likes of Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday. Like some real life Dallas re-do. It’s all just been a dream.

But why would council do that? More specifically, why would council conservatives do such a thing? Why would they allow Rob Ford to continue damaging their brand?

That speaks to a bigger picture, frankly. imwithstupidA response to my post yesterday, My Problem With Conservatives, summed it up in under 140 characters. “Have been curious for some time about why moderate conservatives have allowed, what were fringe radicals, to co-opt their parties.

We’ve seen it down in the States with the Republican Party and, to some degree, up here at the federal and provincial levels. These are not your daddies’ Progressive Conservative parties. Hell, in Ottawa they cut to the chase and dropped Progressive altogether.

And it’s meant a certain degree of electoral success. At least in the short term. The results of the 2012 U.S. election suggest right wing radicalism is, however, hurting the conservative cause now. Here in Ontario, after 2 terms of far-rightedness under the Common Sense Revolution, the P.C.’s have experienced trouble bringing voters back into the fold even in the face of discontent with the ruling Liberal party working in their favour.

And here in Toronto, well, Rob Ford.

It’s not like his type of right wing crank politician never existed before. But they just weren’t usually allowed to drive the bus. proppedupDriving it into a ditch.

I guess a cynical view might be that council conservatives with an eye on the mayor’s office could see fit to prop him up until next year at this time when the official 2014 campaign kicks off. Then, all bets are off. Whoever decided to run could take the 10 months to draw a distinction between their type of right of centre politics and the mayor’s. The right message delivered by the wrong messenger and all that.

That would be a calculated risk, I’d think. If Mayor Ford continues to blow up in such spectacular fashion, it might be difficult to continue keeping the fall out off of you. A smart, progressive campaign would tar all conservatives with the same brush.

Political calculations aside, surely to christ, moderate conservatives at the municipal level must now realize that the mayor’s conservatism is harming the greater good of the city more than anything either of his immediate predecessors did. citybuildingIn fact, if any moderate conservative can still say with a straight face Toronto is in better shape now than it was three years ago should not consider themselves a moderate conservative. They’re willfully blind ideologues.

Take for example John Tory. A seeming old school Red Tory. Too red certainly for the provincial Progressive Conservative party.

As chair of Toronto’s CivicAction Alliance, he is now the public face of a group advocating for greater investment in public transit infrastructure in the GTA. They along with conservative leaning interest groups like the Board of Trade recognize the negative impact congestion is having on the region and the only solution is to spend money bringing our public transit system into the 21st-century. That means considering new taxes. Road tolls.

Is John Tory prepared to stand idly by and let Mayor Ford continue to spout his subway nonsense, given the opportunity to replace him with someone more forward thinking? And I’m not talking about Tory running for mayor necessarily. birdsofafeatherWith the talk radio bully pulpit he has, is he going to pipe up in favour of the status quo, keeping a mayor in place whose closet counsel is his brother, a politician on record as saying all taxes are evil? The private sector will build us our subways, folks.

It won’t. John Tory must know that. TTC chair Karen Stintz too. How about Councillor Michael Thompson?

For the sake of keeping a conservative in power will they all be content to let Mayor Ford stand for the conservative banner? Reasonable people shouldn’t let blind loyalty to their ideology trump city building. It’s OK to state that Mayor Ford has been an unmitigated disaster and still be a conservative. Someone serious from the ranks should step forward soon and say as much. Otherwise, it’ll start to look like conservatives of every stripe are more interested in power rather than good governance.

helpfully submitted by Cityslikr


Designed Obsolescence

October 23, 2012

Put aside your bias for a moment, if you could, and I’ll try to put aside mine. Clear our heads of all preconceived notions of political matters here in Toronto. Let loose our spirits from partisanship.

Then, listen to Councillor Adam Vaughan talk density and city building yesterday with Matt Galloway on CBC’s Metro Morning. When you’re finished with that, check out Mayor Rob Ford a day earlier on his two hour Sunday radio show talking plastic bags (October 21st, part one, 1’35” mark.) Pause, reflect and consider the implications before asking yourself: Who would you rather have running this city?

Like I said, keep your politics at the door on this. Vehemently disagree or heartily agree with Councillor Vaughan all you want but admit that he’s talking about and understands substantive issues. His ward is at the epicenter of development in the city right now. Pressures of densification are intense. He is front and centre in the changing face of Toronto.

And Mayor Ford?

When not ordering city staff to spruce up the area around his family owned business, he’s busy, busy, busy visiting and revisiting the inadvertent plastic bag ban he instigated earlier this year.

A plastic bag ban, folks! The mayor of Toronto is determined to spend considerable political capital (and time) reversing a ban he already failed to have reversed. Almost halfway through his term, a weekly talk radio bully pulpit at his disposal and he spends even a fraction of the opportunity talking plastic bags? Why?

“It is essential that we have plastic bags,” Mayor Ford said on his show. “…they are very, very handy.”

Handy, sure, if what you’re really looking for is an easily digestible, yes/no, right/wrong binary issue that even a part time mayor can sum up in a bumper sticker slogan. When larger matters like more and better transit, an affordable housing shortage, city planning for the 21st-century are a little too cumbersome to get your head around, latch on to an inconsequential, divisive item and just don’t let go. Essential? You betcha. For re-election.

“We are doing great. We are doing what taxpayers elected me to do. We are straightening out the city.”

Is this really what Mayor Ford was elected to do? (It bears repeating that this plastic bag ban was entirely the mayor’s doing when he went off half-cocked at council trying to end the 5 cent – 6 cents if you include HST – plastic bag fee the city was demanding retailers charge their customers). Was he being literal when he said people were tired of being nickel and dimed to death and he’d put an end to it? One nickel – 6 cents if you include HST – at a time.

It was a flimsy if catchy campaign platform that successfully caught a wave of voter discontent in 2010. As a governing policy, however, it leaves a little to be desired. Is it really the best use of city time and resources to have our mayor running around filling potholes, rescuing kittens from trees, obsessing over a 5 cent – 6 cents if you include HST – plastic bag fee-turned-ban? Shouldn’t the mayor of city with some 2.5 million residents have more important things to do?

If your answer to that question is no, as a matter of fact, Mayor Ford is doing exactly what I voted for him to do, your expectations of the role municipal governments play in our lives is quite low. Access to regular and reliable public transit is essential. Plastic bags aren’t. Our aim should be a lot higher than the target Mayor Ford shoots for and his supporters cheer him on to do.

That’s called ‘reducing the role of government’ by example.

activistly submitted by Cityslikr


What’s The Story With John Tory?

October 17, 2010

I was asked the other day what it was we here at All Fired Up in the Big Smoke would write about after October 25th. Pointing out that life does go on after an election, and a city will be run – for good or ill — regardless of who does the winning next Monday, so it will probably be more important to follow what’s going from that point than it was throughout the campaign. That’s when they can do the most damage.

“One thing I definitely won’t be doing after October 25th,” I went on, “is listening to another single word that comes out of John Tory’s mouth.” Unless I were to find myself mysteriously trapped inside a demonically possessed car during a weekday sometime between the hours of 4 and 7 pm, the radio dial refusing to budge from Newstalk 1010, driving me to the brink of insanity. I rule nothing out. Odder things have happened.

It seems almost as if we’ve come full circle since our debut post, way back on the first official day of campaign 2010. We exhorted Mr. Tory not to enter the race as we believed that he really brought nothing but baggage to the table. It was nip and tuck there for awhile, as he hummed and hawed, Hamlet-style, before officially declining sometime in late August. Pheee-ew, we thought. That’s that.

And yet the man hung around, always lurking near the spotlight, a regular debate moderator. Now, I realize Tory’s a Toronto media figure and wasn’t the only one of that breed who took part in the process. But he was treated as something more, like some civic sage, successor of David Pecault at the helm of the Toronto City Summit Alliance. An agent positive change.

Now come the much heralded and desirable John Tory endorsements. Candidates (challengers and incumbents alike) flaunting His benevolent tap on their shoulder as the chosen one of their respective ward. Vote For Us Because John Tory Would If He Lived Here.

Can I just take a moment and remind everyone that JOHN TORY WAS NEVER MAYOR! He lost the 2003 election after which, he did not stick around to contribute to the general well being of the city, but moved on to bumble and stumble through the vast wilderness of provincial politics, before getting chewed up and spit out back here. You don’t like the notion of a career politician? How do you feel about a failed career politician?

As a professional pontificator doing his schtick on the talk radio circuit, Tory has done his part to create the atmosphere of Toronto being a failed city under the Miller administration. Wise, objective truth telling or a little personal score settling; burnishing his own halo as the one that got away? If only we’d voted for John Tory in 2003, things would be so much better now…

A second reminder, folks. Before declaring himself a candidate for mayor back in 2003, a certain John Tory was a member of the infamous Mel Lastman ‘kitchen cabinet’. Ahhhh, Mel Lastman. Remember that guy? He and his cronies bear much responsibility for whatever financial straits the city finds itself in now with their ill-advised property tax freeze (hello, George Smitherman) and outright refusal to deal with the financial realities taking shape under amalgamation. As corrupt (of the official, MFP kind as opposed to the Rob Ford pretend stuff) as it was inept, it left behind a city reeling under not only weak governance but more than a little red-faced out there on the international stage. From that, we are to somehow jump to the conclusion that John Tory would’ve made a great mayor.

No, in more perfect world, a John Tory endorsement would be treated as pure poison to any candidacy. Yeah, thanks for that, Mr. Tory. But you know, my opponent has a lot to offer too. Here, take a look at their campaign literature. You’re going to like what you see. Instead, it’s a big deal to be trumpeted, perhaps even a game-changer in a close race. That says as much about the truly twisted nature of this campaign than even the fact of Rob Ford being one of the front runners. Unimaginable, lamentable and more than a little unsettling.

exasperatedly submitted by Cityslikr