Not going to lie to you. I am kind of a sucker for the occasional outburst of oratorical thunder that Councillor Anthony Perruzza (Ward 8 York West) unleashes at city council meetings. And by ‘oratorical’ I don’t really mean to suggest any sense of eloquence or particular skills in rhetoric. It’s more to do with the loud noises that come out of his mouth in no discernible pattern or meaning. Most of the time, I have no idea what the councillor’s on about or the point he’s trying to make. It’s just fun to watch him perform.
Which pretty much sums up my impression of his term on council during the Ford administration. I don’t know what he’s been up to or the reason why he’s there. I get no sense of who he represents. It’s a mystery to me who Councillor Perruzza stands up to advocate for when Councillor Perruzza gets up to thunder.
I imagine if he didn’t have such a unique style of delivery, I’d hardly notice Councillor Perruzza at all.
He is (at least according to his Wikipedia page) a member of the New Democratic Party, serving as an MPP for one term as part of the Bob Rae government alongside now Communist defector Giorgio Mammoliti. Both men voted against their own party’s same-sex rights and benefits bill, helping to defeat it. Perruzza was also a North York Separate School Board Trustee and councillor before eventually becoming an amalgamated city councillor.
He seems to have been a long time advocate of affordable housing, tenants’ rights and low property taxes. Throughout much of the past 3+ years, unlike his former NDP MPP colleague Councillor Mammoliti, Perruzza has kept his distance, politically speaking, from Mayor Ford while still managing to eventually snag a chair position of one of the city’s standing committees, Community Development and Recreation. That’s the kind of appointment the mayor usually only grants to his closest allies. Councillor Perruzza was even tapped by the mayor as one of only five councillors worthy of being re-elected this year. “Although he doesn’t vote with us sometimes,” the mayor said, “but he supported me when times were tough.”
This is where the whole Anthony Perruzza enigma gets really unsettling for me.
Somewhere along the line, the councillor softened toward the mayor, going to bat for him on two recent fronts. First, the Scarborough subway. Not only would this transit line provide zero help to transit users in his part of the city, Councillor Perruzza voted in favour of a property tax increase to pay for it (at least, initially he did.) Councillor Perruzza is not a big fan of property tax increases.
More baffling however was the councillor’s standing up for Mayor Ford in his fight to keep all his powers after the crack scandal broke wide open. The ‘tough times’ the mayor referred to. Perruzza rose to his feet to boom about the political implications of such a move, worrying that it might set a dangerous precedent. The next time a city council and a mayor had a falling out. He even voted against asking the mayor to apologize for lying about smoking crack.
As if smoking crack and lying about it while impugning the reputation of others is in any way political. As if the motion to remove the mayor’s power wasn’t at all a reflection of his job performance and somehow just political posturing. As if the mayor’s behaviour could be categorized as the normal functioning of the office that some of his colleagues simply didn’t agree with.
Matt Elliott later pointed out when Mayor Ford YouTubely endorsed Councillor Perruzza that the worthy list of re-electable councillors consisted of only those who voted against stripping the mayor of his powers. So a cynic might conclude that Councillor Perruzza’s motivation was with an eye on the upcoming election. In order to tell voters in Ward 8 that, while he opposed the mayor on many issues, he wasn’t against the mayor, if you catch the fence straddling there.
Why would not being perceived as too anti-Rob Ford be a goal for Councillor Perruzza?
In the Etobicoke-York-Scarborough axis of… nevermind… that served as the base of support for Ford Nation, Ward 8 ranked at the bottom, with just 47% voting for Rob Ford, almost the same as the average city wide numbers. One would think approval ratings for the mayor haven’t increased there more than anywhere else in the city over the last 18 months or so. Does an unofficial endorsement from Mayor Ford actually help Councillor Perruzza’s re-election chances?
On the other hand, the councillor has been engaged in electoral war in Ward 8 over 4 campaigns since 2000, all with the former incumbent, Peter Li Preti. He lost twice (3 times if you count the pre-current council alignment in 1997) before winning the last two times. All of the elections, save in 2000, have been close. The last three were determined by a combined 1381 votes, less than 500 an election.
Now, in the 2010 election Mr. Li Preti was nailed for various campaign finance violations. Last summer the Compliance Audit Committee voted in favour of proceeding with a prosecution. So, there’s a good chance the two men won’t meet in a council race for the first time since the city amalgamated.
But you can never be too sure about these things. Councillor Perruzza may just be hedging his bets, making sure all his bases are covered. That roar you hear when he gets to his feet to bellow could be the sound of someone marking their territory. I am Councillor Anthony Perruzza. I represent Ward 8 York West.
Sound and fury, signifying nothing more than a re-election bid.
— cynically submitted by Cityslikr