Meet A Mayoral Candidate XX

July 9, 2010

Rainy days on Fridays always make me… want to read Meet A Mayoral Candidate!

This week a special double feature: Giorgio Mammoliti & Rocco Achampong!

OK, so we’re not going to really spend much time on the former mayoral candidate, Giorgio Mammoliti, as he’s withdrawn from the race and is heading back to seek reelection as councillor for Ward 7. But as we wrote here earlier this week, when Mammoliti announced that he was exiting he expressed hope that Rocco Achampong would have a greater presence in the campaign. Ostensibly, Mammoliti was endorsing Achampong to take his place along side the 5 other front running candidates.

How effective this endorsement of legitimacy will be is hard to tell. It came from Giorgio Mammoliti after all. A candidate very few took at all seriously which is why he is no longer running for mayor. It’s difficult to imagine why the remaining front runners would welcome a new face into the midst given the difficulties most of them have had mustering a whole lot of support and enthusiasm for their respective campaigns. Aside from Rob Ford that is, and he may welcome anyone up on stage with him who isn’t Giorgio Mammoliti, a constant thorn in Ford’s side and aggressive caller out of Ford’s steady stream of bullshit.

But Mammoliti’s attempt to shine whatever light he had on Achampong will make it increasingly difficult for debate organizers to continue ignoring the other Rocco. CBC’s Metro Morning picked up the thread almost immediately, interviewing Mr. Achampong the very next day. CP24’s next mayoral debate is schedule on July 20th. Has an invite already been extended to Rocco Achampong?

For our part, despite having already profiled his candidacy a couple months ago, we’re going to accept Giorgio Mammoliti’s challenge and do our first ever re-profile here at All Fired Up in the Big Smoke.

As we wrote here earlier about Mr. Achampong, he has all the tools to be a very compelling candidate. He is articulate, passionate, confident and has a great biography. Born in Ghana, he came to Canada with his family at the age of 9 and grew up in one of the toughest, poorest neighbourhoods in Toronto, managing all the obstacles inherent in that environment to work his way through to becoming a lawyer. He was very politically active while at U of T, serving as both president of the Black Students’ Association and the Students’ Administrative Council. It is a resumé fit for a career in politics.

And yet, we remain underwhelmed. Having seen and heard Rocco Achampong a couple times since we wrote the first profile, nothing he’s said has alleviated our concern that his platform is built on the flaccid legs of empty rhetoric. When talking to Metro Morning’s Matt Galloway on Tuesday, Mr. Achampong spoke of a need for a mayor who was not “a person reciting from rote from a political handbook”. We couldn’t agree more, Mr. Achampong. So would you mind closing up that political handbook you’re reciting from?

The Issues section of the (other) Rocco for Campaign 2010 website shows a candidate who is very concerned with social matters. Transit, housing, job creation and culture all figure prominently. But it still lacks some need to know specifics. Mr. Achampong wants to freeze TTC fares for two years and add subways to Transit City. Where’s he going to get the money to do that? Ditto the doubling of grants to city cultural and arts groups. Great idea. Where’s the money going to come from?

None of which would be all that troublesome at this juncture of the campaign (especially since the other leading candidates have similar gaping holes in their platforms) but we find it hard to gibe these noble intentions with the anti-tax/anti-City Hall sentiments that shone through Mr. Achampong’s kick off speech back in February. Many of his words could’ve just as easily emerged from the mouths of Mssrs. Ford, Smitherman, Rossi and Ms. Thomson. While Rocco Achampong may be a fresh face on the campaign trail, his ideas most certainly aren’t.

This isn’t to suggest, however, that Rocco Achampong is not ready for and hasn’t earned a shot at mayoral primetime. He may fit in a little too neatly for our tastes. The race is in desperate need of someone of Mr. Achampong’s intelligence and perspective. There is no reason whatsoever that he continue to be ignored as future mayoral get togethers are organized.

And if not Rocco Achampong, why not HiMY SYeD? Or Colin Magee. Or Sonny Yeung? Or Keith Cole? Or Wendell Brereton? Or George Babula? There are plenty of interesting choices out there. Let’s get the opportunity to explore them.

dutifully submitted by Cityslikr


Ciao Giorgio. C U In November.

July 6, 2010

Giorgio Mammoliti has left the building. Figuratively speaking of course. Out of the mayoral race as of yesterday, he announced he was returning to the hinterlands to seek re-election as councillor in Ward 7 and if the voters so chose (as they almost always do with their incumbents), he would be back at City Hall after the October 25th election.

Gone with him is much of the colour and panache that he provided in the campaign. As things stand now, without him, it promises to be a dreary affair. Doubly so as the palpably overt contempt Mammoliti never shied away from showing for fellow candidate Rob Ford was rarely matched by anyone else up on the dais with them during the debates. The two men clearly loath one another and the tension between them was almost sexual in its sweatiness if such a thing can be pictured without causing one to lapse into a self-protective coma.

To say that the Mammoliti, Outrageously In Touch brand never really caught fire is simply committing to bytes a firm grasp of the obvious. His problems as we saw it stemmed from the fact that it was difficult to get a handle on his candidacy. Part bat shit crazy, part go for broke bold, he was never able to reconcile the two into a workable platform. For every audacious waterfront plan he threw out there, he tripped himself up with countless panderings to the fearful and the tax haters. His dismissal of bike lanes as being not a serious, ‘meat and potatoes’ issue in his speech yesterday revealed his stunted thinking about an overall transit strategy. Although he is not alone in that amongst the other mayoral candidates, it was just tough to get a sense of where exactly the Mammoliti campaign stood. Perhaps his motto should’ve been: Giorgio Mammoliti, Outrageously Touched.

Still, we will say this much about Mammoliti’s run for mayor. For the most part it was one, if not of vision, at least of forward thinking. At times he seemed to be actually trying to figure shit out and not simply offering empty platitudes and easy bromides. This was most apparent when we watched him wrestle with the more nuanced, intricate issues last month at the AGO’s Mayoral forum, A New Mayors Vision For Architecture, Design and Planning In The City Of Toronto. As we wrote here about the event, Mammoliti seemed the most engaged and willing to talk about matters that clearly weren’t his strong suit. What he displayed was passion rather than calculation.

He drops out now leaving a largely listless pack of contenders who mostly seem content trying to convince Toronto voters that they best can restore Toronto to its glory years of the 1970s by bringing back 1970s levels of taxing and spending. And Joe Pantalone, who has developed a serious knack for delivering the right message a day later than he should. Mammoliti probably deserves the fate that has befallen him but if that’s true, all 5 of the other front running candidates warrant similar outcomes. Certainly none of them have earned the right to be taken any more seriously than Giorgio Mammoliti.

Further to his credit, Mammoliti didn’t exit the race quietly. While refusing to endorse any other candidate, he did suggest that the previously considered “fringe” candidate, Rocco Achampong, be allowed to take his place at future mayoral debates, doing his best to not allow the media and entrenched mayoral camps from using his departure to narrow the field down to simply five. Whatever his motives, he used what will probably be his highest level of media attention to try and keep the proceedings that much more open and democratic. For that he should be applauded.

How likely anyone will take him up on the challenge will be interesting to watch. Clearly much of the media hadn’t spent any time examining candidates outside the Six Pack, some not even getting the spelling of Mr. Achampong’s correct. (LIVE on CP24 ROCCO ACHANPONG asks CP24 to be included at July 20th Mayoral debate – in place of Mammoliti.) Heaven forbid that someone like HiMY SYeD begins to garner a higher profile. Imagine the spelling slaughter on that. In that light, I guess Giorgio Mammoliti should consider his aborted mayoral campaign an unqualified success. At least they got his name right.

send offingly submitted by Cityslikr


Massacre At The AGO

June 17, 2010

To cut the 6 front running mayoral candidates a little slack, one could say that they might’ve been sandbagged at the AGO’s Pug Talk: A New Mayors Vision For Architecture, Design and Planning In The City Of Toronto last night. Before the roundtable discussion commenced, Toronto’s former Tiny Perfect Mayor, David Crombie, took to the stage and warmed up the crowd with talk of a “continuation of regeneration of the public realm”. He spoke of “reimagination, reinvention and reinvestment” in the “civic magic” that makes all the difference between simply living in a city and loving living in a city. In 3 short minutes, I found myself plotting a Draft Crombie For Mayor movement.

Crombie was then followed by a grade school participant in the Pug Ed program which is “… designed to engage senior elementary school students in architecture, design and urban development…” who succinctly laid out a very green (environmentally speaking) plan of what he would do if he were mayor. As he finished up, one of the mayoral candidates said it was a good thing that he wasn’t running for office now. Truer words have never been spoken by anyone on the campaign trail.

And then came the real kick in the sack. A video clip of Councillor Adam Vaughan (clip starts at about the 83′ mark) taking part in an earlier Pug Talk where he spoke of the choice between wanting to “build a civilization or sustain a settlement” and needing to elevate the notion of city building above merely filling potholes and fixing street lights.  High falutin’ stuff, as Rob Ford and his zombie army might say if they knew what it meant, and certainly leaving many in the audience wondering why Mr. Vaughan wasn’t running for the mayor’s job.

The warm up act finished, it was now time for the headliners, and I don’t think it much of an overstatement to tell you that the next hour and three-quarters was nothing short of a big ol’ fucking train wreck.  It might’ve been more fun to watch if, you know, our collective futures weren’t riding on all of it.  I didn’t think it possible for a city that elected Mel Lastman mayor twice could find itself less than a decade later with even dimmer prospects. But it was difficult to shake off that sense after the performances I witnessed last night.

Joe Pantalone, bless his soul, I think has his heart in the right place. As a progressive, left wing voter, my sympathies are with him. It’s his struggles to straddle the middle way — distancing himself from the current administration that he’s been an integral part of but is the bogey man of this campaign, while trying to point out the positive aspects it has delivered — that leave him floundering, easy prey for vacuous political sharks like George Smitherman and Rocco Rossi. He’s fighting their fight and getting beaten to the punch constantly.

For a second consecutive night, Giorgio Mammoliti delivered what I saw as the most impassioned, least calculated performance. His wild swings for the fences never ever hit one out of the park or, quite possibly, ever got him safely on base but it seemed that he tied Pantalone for at least trying to mould their responses to the room they were speaking to. There was a sense Mammoliti believed the topic at hand was important even if he wasn’t sure about what needed to be done about it.

It was performance miles ahead of the rest of the mayoral pack.

Rob Ford was so far out of his element that it was almost embarrassing to witness. But not that embarrassing. He clearly has no mind for complex issues and his adaptive powers are equally absent. Despite having been given the questions beforehand, he answered none, only using them to launch into his now familiar spiel of out of control taxing and spending, blah, blah, blah. He was heckled by a suit just into his first rambling response and by the end the crowd was openly laughing at his answers especially the one where he claimed to have made Rexdale into Rosedale.

Was Rob ruffled? Hard to say. He always seems ruffled. For him, the crowd’s reaction had nothing to do with his performance. They were all just rude and a bunch of NDPers, he told reporters afterwards. Apparently, the man simply sees culture, education and discourse on weighty issues as some sort of socialist plot.

George Smitherman didn’t really use the opportunity of Ford’s missteps to further his cause much as he just was popping in on his way to another engagement long enough to take a couple swipes at Ford and Pantalone, buddy up with Rocco Rossi and mimic some of the key words and phrases he’d heard bandied about. Public realm. Elevated urban planning. We found it telling that the man had just returned from a trip to China that included a stop in Shanghai, arguably one of the architectural marvels of the modern world, and he made no mention of it at an Architecture, Design and Planning roundtable discussion!!! I guess his engineers hadn’t got the opportunity to program that into his hard drive yet.

As for Rocco Rossi and Sarah Thomson, they are little more than talkers of talking points. Rossi, the smoother of the two, seemed the most knowledgeable about the subject at hand and spoke baritonely about beauty and planning but in examining my notes, I realize I jotted down nothing of what he actually said. And Thomson still sounds as if she just recently joined the debate club. Her approach is exhaustively Wikipedian, able to talk about any topic that comes up but for no longer than 2 minutes a pop. Her ability to adjust to the crowd is as equally suspect as Ford’s. Last night speaking at the AGO to an audience with a large contingent of designers and architects, she began one statement as follows: “I don’t know if you know the ROM…” Yeah, my guess is they probably do, Sarah.

What was most discouraging about this particular evening was that it offered up the perfect opportunity for the candidates to unveil a grand vision of why they want to be mayor and how they see the future of the city coming together under their leadership. Not one of them rose to the occasion. The proceedings had started out with glimpses of heavyweights in the forms of David Crombie, Adam Vaughan and a pre-pubescent child. It ended with a choice of lightweights.

It may be time to turn our attention to our respective council races in order to send strong representatives to City Hall in the hopes of at least trying to mitigate the disaster that’s taking shape in the race to be mayor.

despairingly submitted by Cityslikr


The Debates Drone On

June 16, 2010

Walking out from Trinity St. Paul’s church… er, Centre after the latest mayoral debate, I was accosted by a young fellow who stepped in front of me, blocking my path and demanded to know if I was Rocco Rossi.

Now, I have been called a few names in my time that were not my own, many better, most much worse, but never one this curious. Was I Rocco Rossi? If I’d been quicker on the uptake, I would’ve acknowledged that, yes in fact, I was Rocco Rossi but I had no time to stop and chat since I’d just stolen Sarah Thomson’s wallet from her purse and needed to make a quick getaway. That would’ve got the Twittersphere a-buzzing.

I could then take my act on the road, doing a little door-to-door canvassing under the name of Rocco Rossi, not so much campaigning as panhandling, begging for money, claiming that my fundraising had dried up since Rob Ford entered the race. I’d accept non-cash donation as well. A nice hot meal would be nice because I was so very, very hungry.

Oh, the things I’d do if I were the pretend Rocco Rossi.

Aside from that unusual ending, the debate itself proceeded pretty much as expected except that George Smitherman was absent who, it would appear, no longer needs to debate his opponents now that China has anointed him Mayor of Toronto. Taking his spot up on stage was Howard Gomberg, one of the 24 or so “other” candidates officially registered as mayoral candidates. How the evening’s hosts (a series of Bloor Street West business improvement areas and residents associations) decided upon Gomberg remains a mystery. The debate moderator, Gus Sinclair, began to explain the selection process but then simply didn’t and moved on to the candidates’ opening remarks.

This only increased my cynical suspicion of nefarious motives in choosing Gomberg to warm George Smitherman’s seat. An actor, improv-ver, spouter of New Ageism and all round genial old guy who wows the audience with his beat poetry/raps, Gomberg might be just the candidate to scream “Fringe!” loud enough for everyone to simply ignore all the other outsiders as cranks, pranksters and jokesters. None worthy of further consideration.

That Mr. Gomberg acquitted himself to the degree of not being an embarrassment was a good thing. Aside from injecting a little levity into the proceedings, however, he didn’t bring much to the table but, at least, he was not the clown prince. How could he be, what with Rob Ford sitting beside him?

Clown, buffoon, gas bag and blowhole. All these descriptors of Ford come easily but they don’t actually do justice to the monumental ignorance the man displays in terms of governance. It’s all about customer service to Ford; answering phone calls, filling potholes, putting name tags on city employees. There’s a paucity of imagination in the man (and presumably his rabid followers) that is simply staggering. Every time he stands to speak or rather, vent, H.L. Mencken’s quote immediately springs to mind. For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.

Of course, Rob Ford merely delivers the populist, grassroots version of the same song and dance sung by candidates Rocco Rossi and Sarah Thomson. Much of the evening’s talk was of fiscal responsibility, getting our financial house in order, running a tight ship, profligate spending and taxing. No degree of counter-argument penetrated their discussion.

Councillor Pantalone claimed that under the Miller administration municipal spending had risen less than government spending at either the provincial or federal levels. No matter. We must get our fiscal house in order before going to the senior levels of government, cap-in-hand. But the provincial and federal governments just posted $20 billion+ and $50 billion+ deficits respectively. They are hardly the paragons of financial probity that Toronto needs to be justifying itself to. Cities aren’t allowed to run annual operating deficits, Pantalone points out. Immaterial. Until we get serious about cutting taxes and spending, we cannot expect other levels of government to take us seriously.

So it went in circles. Ideology trumping informed debate which was especially discouraging last night as the audience largely brought their A-game, posing questions about land use development, population density strategies and socially inclusive gentrification. For his part, Joe Pantalone engaged in a thoughtful, deliberate manner, most of the time. But it’s a difficult slog as he doesn’t possess an orator’s power of persuasion, coupled with the fact his opponents were mostly content to talk trash and shit, brushing Pantalone off with the school yard taunt of Miller Lite. (No. I most certainly am not Rocco Rossi.)

Bringing me to a most unsettling conclusion: Giorgio Mammoliti came across as the evening’s most intriguing candidate. Setting aside for the moment all the man’s quirks and idiosyncrasies, he struck me as someone who genuinely is searching for a way to make this city better and more vital. Yes, his thoughts and plans drifted in and out of lucidity and he says sinister things like, I know where the money is, but he seems like a candidate who is not set in a rigid belief system. This leads to many a contradiction (even within a single statement) and backtracking which could well be a very solid indication that he doesn’t have a fucking clue what he’s talking about. Yet, on this night at any rate, it felt refreshing, popping up as it did in a sea of unyielding certainty and blinkered absolutes.

Or maybe I’m already desperate, clutching at straws, waiting and hoping for someone to step forward and give me one good reason to think that dark days don’t lie ahead for Toronto.

not yet but close to fearfully submitted by Cityslikr


Meet A Mayoral Candidate XVII

June 11, 2010

It’s Friday, and if you can tear yourself away from watching the World Cup for a moment, cast your eyes this way for our weekly Meet A Mayoral Candidate.

Up today: HiMY SYeD, the Peoples’ Mayor!

Now, we don’t want anybody to finish this post and walk away thinking it’s an out-and-out endorsement of Mr. SYeD. It’s too early for that. Questions still remain that need to be answered. But we will confess to having somewhat of a crush on the candidate, politically speaking of course. So consider what follows to be an unapologetic endorsement of HiMY SYeD being taken very, very seriously as a candidate for mayor of Toronto in 2010.

We first encountered Mr. SYeD at the Better Ballots Mayoral forum earlier this month. He popped up on stage for the one minute presentation given to all registered candidates for mayor who had not made it into the main debate portion of the evening. And as show business people say, he killed, delivering a rhythmic speech that ended with a very funny call to arms. This Election is not about Left or Right. It is about who is being Left behind, and who’s Right behind them. We’ve sent enough Cowboys to City Hall. Now, It’s Time for an Indian. The visual joke being, Mr. SYeD is of southeast Asian extraction.

Apparently, this was not the first time he made an impression at a political venue. Back in 2006 at Dave Meslin’s City Idol competition, SYeD created a stir as reported in NOW magazine. “The citystate has been replaced by the neighbourhood civilization,” says candidate HiMY SYeD (his spelling, not mine). “You don’t need a councillor, you need representation for your neighbourhood. You need a superhero for your neighbourhood!” Stripping down to a Superman costume, he jumps off the stage, through the crowd and out the door.

So just a gifted performer with a knack for publicity stunts? No, that’s Rob Ford’s schtick minus the ‘gifted’. Sifting through Mr. SYeD’s work and online presence (and he has a very large online presence; so much so as to be slightly daunting to techno-dolts like us), we begin to discover a highly thoughtful, active and involved citizen. His resumé is wildly varied but with a unified core: politics. Islamic banking and finance, civil rights activist, photojournalist, Torontopreneur – a founder of Torontopedia. Mr. SYeD is up to his eyes in the life and wellbeing of this city.

On the campaign trail, he Tweeted responses to questions being asked of the 6 media picks for mayor at this week’s CP24 televised debate. (Freezing Wages/Salaries “Across The Board” is irresponsible w/o Forensic Accounting & considering Unintended Consequences) He attends council meetings, appearing to know more about what’s going on at City Hall than those like the above mentioned Mr. Ford who’ve been elected to represent it. Just a couple days ago, SYeD revealed to the Tweetosphere that Councillor Paula Fletcher once again pressed the wrong button and voted in favour of a motion that she claimed to be against just as she did in spiking the University Avenue bike lane proposal. Oops! She did it again…

Sifting through the mountains of content that Mr. SYeD produces on a daily basis, we begin to decipher the coalescing of that whole ‘Vision’ thing candidates ought to bring to the table when asking us for our votes. While the front running candidates are competing to simply nibble around the edges of what this city needs in order to grow prosperously, equitably and sustainably (or choosing to ignore that necessity altogether), HiMY SYeD has made the leap from Ward 19 councillor candidate to mayoral to tackle the governance of Toronto head on. “It is time for our city to reset, reboot, restart, and take on the challenge of what I call “Remalgamation” and get on with finishing the work that was started in 1998 when six cities… merged into one.

Taking his biking message to Rio.

One city. “As people, we are all born with human rights. These are universal and should not be up for negotiation. In deference to the jurisdictions in which we may live, we have some elastic level of Civil Rights. Civil Rights are by their very nature, a permanent negotiation within the society. By simply living within a city’s borders, are there certain inalienable municipal rights? Regardless of citizenship, residency, class, gender. What is the right to the city?

It is in pursuit of the answer to that question where we see the emerging vision of candidate HiMY SYeD. For him, the rhetoric of this mayoral campaign has been all about the things and “stuff” of Toronto – infrastructure, bureaucracy, taxes – and precious little about its people. Thus, when trying to answer our lame question, If the present mayor would like his legacy to be that of the Transit Mayor, how would a Mayor SYeD like to see his legacy written, it seems best to just go back to the beginning of this post. HiMY SYeD, the Peoples’ Mayor!

Yes, more specifics will be required as the campaign proceeds. But candidate SYeD has earned the right to have those specifics aired to a citywide audience. He needs to be up on stage with Mssrs. Ford, Mammoliti, Pantalone, Rossi, Smitherman and Ms. Thomson each and every time they debate. Failure to make space for him will reveal a cravenness and fear of having a truly meaningful discussion about the future of Toronto on the part of our mainstream media and the leading candidates themselves. We, the people of Toronto, should not be denied that discourse.

dutifully submitted by Cityslikr


Meet A Mayoral Candidate XVI

June 4, 2010

It’s Friday and time for another edition of Meet A Mayoral Candidate! But not just any old edition. A Better Ballots Mayoral Debate Meet A Mayoral Candidate!

As some of you regular readers will already know, we attended Tuesday’s mayoral debate, hosted by the good folks over at Better Ballots, and wrote about it here on Wednesday. There was talk of the general atmosphere at the event, how it was the first debate of this campaign that opened up to the wider swath of registered mayoral candidates past just the anointed frontrunners and, ironically in hindsight, how those same frontrunners fared during the course of the evening. We decided to talk about the “other” candidates in a separate post, here today.

Was the segregation necessary and did it serve to simply perpetuate the completely arbitrary division that’s keeping lesser known candidates from gaining wider public exposure? Yes, perhaps. But in our defense the post on Wednesday bordered on being unreadably long. If we had made it any longer with fuller coverage of the “outsider” candidates, no one would’ve read it anyway and they’d all be back at square one, wallowing in obscurity. With their own post now, there’s every possibility that one, two or maybe all of them will break out to be a serious contender on So You Think You Can Be The Next Mayor of Toronto?©®™

Owing to an online poll conducted by Better Ballots last month, candidates Rocco Achampong and Keith Cole earned themselves the right to share the stage on Tuesday with the other “regular” six. Neither Achampong nor Cole fluffed their opportunity to be looked at for further serious consideration. From our vantage point, both men easily fared better than at least 2 of the other candidates on stage.

Not that this should be surprising to anyone paying attention. For Mr. Achampong’s part, he has more hands on political experience than either Rocco Rossi or Sarah Thomson, having been president of both the Black Students’ Union and the S.A.C. during his time at the University of Toronto. No small feat the latter, as he had to contend with an often times fractious 50+ member council.

What was surprising was Achampong’s stagger out of the starting gate, given his political background and the fact that he is a lawyer who, presumably, argues cases in front of an “audience”. He clearly underestimated the 1 minute time limit (strictly enforced) candidates were given and delivered a fuzzy, rambling opening statement that was breathlessly finished in an attempt to get every last word in. That behind him, Achampong settled in nicely, playfully jostling with the other Rocco, and appearing far more prepared to talk about the electoral reform issues on hand than almost all the other candidates on stage. I would advise Mr. Achampong to refrain from quoting obscure theologians in the future for fear of stumping most of the audience although the baffled look on George Smitherman’s face when Achampong mentioned William of Occam may have been worth it.

In his e-vite to the sweaty soiree that Keith Cole sent out, he expressed concern that his appearance at the debate “…could either be fabulous or a train wreck – or a combo of both. A Fabulous Train Wreck!” Well, no worry as Mr. Cole’s appearance on stage tilted heavily to the former. Again, not that surprising as he is a performer and very obviously comfortable on the stage. He brought lightness to the proceedings and sense of fun to battle the room’s heat. When things got a little testy between two other candidates, Cole delivered a tasty bon mot.

“Tonight started out as a cocktail party and it’s become a family reunion.”

More than the merry prankster, though, Mr. Cole brought a couple things to the stage that should not be overlooked. One, was a sense of humility as he confessed confusion at a number of the proposals that were being discussed, asking that the other candidates to explain it for him. At one point, Sarah Thomson obliged but it was clear that many of the others on stage were equally at a loss at times but none had the nerve to admit that publicly. Secondly, Keith Cole displayed a love of this city none of the other candidates did. Sure, they might love to be mayor or love the politics of a campaign but no one expressed the degree of enthusiasm for Toronto that Cole did and he deserves to continue to be heard because of that.

After this debate, if anyone suggests that it was all fun and games, the fringers had their shot in the spotlight but now it’s time to get back to the serious business at hand and let the “real” candidates (or as the Toronto Sun phrased it, “quality declared candidates”) continue flailing away at one another, they are simply attempting to quash outside voices and a much wider discussion about this city’s future. If you’re going to refer to the likes of Rob Ford, Sarah Thomson, Giorgio Mammoliti, Rocco Rossi as “quality declared candidates” – and I’m being unusually generous not including George Smitherman on that list – Keith Cole and Rocco Achampong have earned a spot amongst them.

And not only Cole and Achampong. While we were surprised that less than half of the other 20 declared mayoral candidates used the opportunity of the debate to introduce themselves in a one minute statement, there were some who struck us as deserving a closer look. As the son of an Irish immigrant, Colin Magee spoke very eloquently and concisely about the need for extending the municipal vote to permanent residents. George Babula fought through an apparent case of severe stage fright and talked enough sense to earn a further hearing. And we highly encourage everyone to check out HiMY SYêD next Tuesday as he pushes off his campaign. He killed on Tuesday with his line: “We’ve sent enough Cowboys to City Hall, Now, It’s Time for an Indian.” Who wouldn’t want to hear more from him?

Despite the Better Ballots move toward a wider candidate inclusivity, the “official” debates continue next week in their sanctioned format. Only Frontrunners Need Appear! Making matters worse is that debate on Thursday is going to be moderated by the ultimate mayoral media darling, John Tory who, mysteriously, is still being wooed into entering the race. So we’re back once again to independent voices and ideas being shut out of the race. That is not good for democracy. That is not good for this city.

So we say, let’s boycott all future mayoral debates that remain the sole domain of illegitimately designated frontrunners and lazy media favourites. Let’s stop allowing nebulous entities to arbitrarily dictate to us some pre-approved list of who we can listen to and vote for.

Boycott! Boycott!! Boycott!!!

stridently submitted by Cityslikr


Do Not Forsake Us, John Tory

June 3, 2010

Draft John Tory for Mayor?

So asks Royson James in Tuesday’s Toronto Star.

Draft John Tory for Mayor??

Apparently the tongues have been wagging about it for months now in the mouths of “unnamed armchair quarterbacks, radio talk show hosts” (of which John Tory is one) and “political pundits” (of which Royson James is one). “Average citizens and king-makers regularly fill Tory’s ears and stroke his ego by pleading that he run,” so James claims. I’m assuming that the “average citizens” are regular listeners of Tory’s radio show who, once vetted, are allowed on air to plead for Tory to reconsider his decision not to run for mayor. The “king-makers”? Step out from behind that curtain, Royson James. You’re just referring to yourself in the third person again, aren’t you.

In the impolite circles I run in, there’s been very little begging, pleading or praying for John Tory to get into the race and claim his rightful crown. And, as has been stated in the early pages of this site, I was a John Tory supporter back in `03. So there’s no overt hostility toward the man. It’s just that, nothing he did in the political arena subsequent to that instilled in me any fervor to see the man as mayor of Toronto. What have others seen that I’ve missed?

Have the candidates who are running proven to be so underwhelming that we are left to merely clutch at straws in the hope of becoming more excited and energized about the race? Even Mayor Miller who, by the time last summer’s garbage strike finally wound up was thought to be so unelectable that even someone like George Smitherman would defeat him, is now thought of having a good chance of keeping the mayor’s chair if he had another election fight in him. It’s an appealing prospect if for no other reason than to watch both Royson James and Sue Ann Levy’s heads explode, Scanners style, if that were to occur.

Instead of hitching our hopes to ultimately disappointing ain’t-gonna-happen wagons, however, maybe we need to reconsider why voters aren’t rushing en masse to embrace any of the mayoral candidates. Much has been made about the lack of a unifying, invigorating figure from the left of centre since David Miller’s announcement last fall that he would not be running for re-election, and again after Councillor Adam Giambrone’s implosion earlier this year. There’s been a stampede of candidates to the right. Yet, voters remain under-wowed.

Could it be that the problem isn’t so much the messengers as it is with the message itself? After nearly 6 months of campaigning and listening to an unrelenting stream of anti-incumbent, anti-government rhetoric from 5 of the 6 front running candidates, maybe the song just isn’t resonating with a majority of voters. If conservatives are really honest with themselves, they would have to admit that the dilemma they’re facing right now is that Councillor Rob Ford is the one candidate that is saying out loud what they’d all like to be saying: too much taxing, too much spending, too much government. That’s their message coming from the wrong messenger and, to paraphrase Barack Obama, no amount of lipstick on the pig, either with Rossi, Thomson, Mammoliti or Smitherman, can mask it. It seems that regardless of how fed-up everyone insists that the electorate is with the present state of things, not enough of them are willing to chant the conservative mantra.

So how exactly is bringing in another centre-right candidate with a dearth of new ideas going to change that fact? As opposition to the exiting Miller regime begins to soften and his Deputy Mayor, Joe Pantalone’s campaign begins to find its sea legs, maybe right wing candidates need to realize that the political ground isn’t as fertile for them as they had originally hoped, no matter how hard they plough or the number of farmers there are willing to pitch in and help toil in the field.

hopefully helpfully submitted by Urban Sophisticat