The Great Shark Fin Ban Debate 2011. Offering us up a glimpse of what we’d naively hoped against hope would be a regular city council occurrence when we were shocked to learn last October that Rob Ford was going to be our next mayor. A once renegade mavericky councillor turned big kahuna still constantly on the losing end of votes, often times by wide margins. The mayor’s powers useless in his ham-fisted hands.
We couldn’t have been more wrong. So it was nice to revel in the vibe of seeing Mayor Ford one of only 4 votes against a municipal shark fin ban yesterday. Maybe, unlike the puzzling gustatorial appeal of said soup, other councillors might get to like the taste of that, drubbing the mayor. I refuse to let go of my dreams just yet.
To give the mayor his due, it is completely consistent with his small government, libertarian views that elected officials should not be telling people what they can eat. What they can buy in city operated vending machines. It’s a belief that also makes him uncomfortable with the idea of random drug and alcohol testing. As heartless as it appears toward the plight of sharks, it totally makes sense Mayor Ford would vote against such a ban.
Maybe the same can be said about Councillor David Shiner although I didn’t hear him speak out about why he opposed the ban. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. Either that or he really, really hates sharks. Or maybe just Councillor Glenn De Baeremaeker for floating his mechanical shark in council chambers before the debate began.
Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday’s opposition was much less defensible. While also a small government conservative, his tack seemed to be protecting the city against any possible lawsuits stemming from the ban. Over and over again he used the legal departments caution about a ban as justification for not proceeding. But seriously, when is a city’s legal department not cautious? If asked, their default will always be that any course of action council chooses to make could lead to legal action against it. Even from one of their very own, isn’t that right Deputy Mayor? Mr. Holyday’s resistance seemed nothing more than craven and querulous.
Ditto Councillor Mammoliti. It appears in defence of the mayor no argument is too ludicrous to make, no stance too bone-headed for Team Ford’s QB. Add to that a crowded gallery full of hippy activists and quite possible communists, Councillor Mammoliti is in his element. He bellows and belches purely to provoke. ”… a poor player/That struts and frets his hour upon the stage/And then is heard no more. It is a tale/Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury/Signifying nothing. “
All of the air was let out of Mammoliti’s bluster balloon by Councillor Chin Lee. Of actual Chinese heritage and representing a ward with over 50% of its population being ethnically Chinese (Councillor Mammoliti’s Ward 7 is less than 3%), Councillor Lee quietly dismissed Mammoliti’s cultural encroachment claim. After doing some legwork, talking to his constituents, Lee felt comfortable with the ban, once more proving himself to be an independent minded, right leaning councillor who will not mindlessly follow the mayor down any crooked path.
Even the normally docile and obedient mayoral acolyte, Councillor Cesar Palacio stood up to be counted. This after his public claim that the mayor would be supporting the ban turned out to be more wishful thinking than actual fact. The ban was ‘the right thing to do’, the councillor told his colleagues. See, Councillor Palacio? The sky didn’t fall when you defied the mayor’s wishes.
Since I’m all about the kudos now, I have to give a shout out to the budget chief, Mike Del Grande. He gave what I’d call a puppies and baby seals environmental plea, decrying our ransacking, pillaging and preying upon other species. Lawsuits be damned, he told the room (more or less). A stand had to be made to atone for our planetary misdeeds.
I really want to leave it right there, on a complimentary note to the budget chief. But he really doesn’t seem to get the whole environmental angle. One day after his pro-shark fin ban speech, according to the Star’s David Rider, Del Grande was railing about his colleagues who opted for the more expensive UV treatment of sewage at Ashbridge’s Bay over the cheaper chemical rinse, his compassion for marine life, apparently, doesn’t extend to the creatures living in Lake Ontario. “We can’t afford it,” the budget chief claimed.
** sigh **
And there we go, back to reality. Our little dream world of a fringe mayor marginalized as ephemeral as the fanciest of fancies. It was sure nice, though, while it lasted.
— wistfully submitted by Cityslikr