The Real Agenda Debate

September 8, 2010

The boys of summer are gone replaced by men of fall (no offense, Ms. Thomson), all in their resplendent autumnal colours and nary a pair of white slacks between them. From the starter’s tower, the white flag has been waved signaling the commencement of the final lap. (If you thought it meant surrender, you’re not a Rob Ford supporter.) Months and months of mindless posturing and can kicking now gives way to grave seriousness and weighty deliberation.

And nothing says ‘weighty deliberation’ more than a mayoral debate on TVO hosted by respected journo, Steve Paikin. He’ll civilize the proceedings, quiet the roar to a more pleasing, easy to follow decibel. There’ll be no grandstanding under Steve Paikin’s watch. The candidates won’t be able to slime their way out of the tight corners Steve Paikin will put them in. This one’s going to be different. Steve Paikin will finally shed the light of truth and reason on the race and we’ll all be the better for it.

Did he?

Well, yes and no. The sound level on yesterday’s debate was noticeably lower than previous televised debates but, then again, isn’t everything more quiet on TVO? They don’t have the money to buy one of them kick-ass volume goes to 11 amps. It certainly felt more dignified, less shouty and aggressively confrontational. Steve Paikin held much tighter onto the reigns, never letting things veer too out of control. Steve Paikin was insistent without being obnoxious. A one hour debate moderated by Steve Paikin brought much more clarity than any two hour debate we’ve witnessed so far.

And just what was that clarity, you ask?

Well, it become glaringly apparent that, barring some minor miracle, some Hail Mary pass being tossed up and caught, Toronto will be led by someone intent on cutting it down to size. Our next mayor is going to want to see blood on the floor and guts exposed. The terms of the debate are now set in stone. It’s no longer if the city has a spending problem but what to do about the spending problem.

Rob Ford is already the winner of this election even if he doesn’t become mayor on October 25th. His endless braying chant of Toronto not having a revenue problem but a spending problem has been whole-heartedly picked up by Mssrs. Smitherman and Rossi and Ms. Thomson and embraced, leaving any other opinion or view on the matter simply peep, peep, peeping quietly and ineffectively out of the mouth of Joe Pantalone. I know conventional wisdom has it that Councillor Pantalone is simply not a good campaigner but the malaise goes deeper than that. His refusal to embrace the last 7 years, both the good and bad, has put him purely on the defensive, reactive not proactive.

So he’s ceded the battleground to the interloping tax-and-spend choppers, the self-proclaimed white knights with a thirst for government blood. Major surgery will be needed, folks, to cure the ailing patient. But don’t worry. It won’t hurt a bit. At least not for you, what with that protective coating of tax cuts. You’ll be fine. You’ll barely even notice the freezing/cutting spending at City Hall because, seriously, what have they been doing for you over the past 7 years? What with all that retirement partying and sole sourcing and gravy train gulping they’ve been doing…

The table is now set. It’s only a matter of what and how much to axe, what to sell off and who and how much to outsource. The last remaining vestige of liberal impulse in any of the front runners (sorry Joe, you’re not really a front runner) was tossed out by George Smitherman yesterday when he said, cryptically, “There will be less Copenhagen, more Scarborough.” As if Toronto’s problems can be traced back to being too Copenhagen-ish. Clearly, Smitherman’s now speaking code to conservative voters, assuring them once he’s mayor there’ll be no more of that smarty-pants, European, environmental, bike riding going on under his watch. Strip malls for everyone!

Enough Of The Downtown Shenanigans®©™ has become the framework of our mayoral campaign. It’s time to get back down to basics; the basics of low taxes and government spending on only the essentials. And then what?

This is where future debates have to take us. We now know what any one of Ford, Smitherman, Rossi and Thomson will do if they are elected. It’s only a difference of degree between them. What we need to discover is once they’ve restored our fiscal house to order, what kind of city will Toronto look like. They are all harkening back to a former time of Toronto greatness which they vow to restore. When was that exactly? The good ol’ days of… ? Mel Lastman? Art Eggleton? David Crombie? Nathan Phillips? William Lyon Mackenzie?

Because if things are as bad as everyone’s assuring us they are, and can only be fixed by returning to a magical, mystical place in the past, just when was that exactly? That’s what I want to start hearing from our mayoral candidates. Paint us a picture of the Toronto we’ll be living in when your job as mayor is done here. A time, like that one in the past you keep referring to, when there were no problems to solve and seldom was heard a discouraging word.

inquiring mindedly 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


Home Style Independence

April 1, 2010

After reading my colleague’s post from a couple days ago, I feel compelled to submit a response. Not that I disagree with the sentiment expressed in the piece. Having just returned from the wilds of the wider Ontario region, I can fully attest to there being a formidable gulf between… out there and the capital city region here. They are different worlds rather than different provinces. Believe you me.

No, the exception I take to the post is its American tone. Lest anyone forget, the 13 Colonies were not the only political entity to shrug off the heavy shroud of tyranny. Rebellions and discontent bubbled and brewed in both Upper and Lower Canada throughout the 19th-century. While none were as decisive or militarily glorious as the War of Independence south of the border, they were not without their own scruffy charms. Ultimately, like the American uprising, our battles against colonial Britain did lead to the formation of a new, independent country. Arguably, a more pragmatic and peaceful country at that.

More to the point, Tuesday’s riposte and its ripostee share far more in common with a leader of the 1837 uprising, William Lyon Mackenzie, than they do the likes of such Enlightenment types as Thomas Jefferson or Benjamin Franklin. Vituperative, impetuous, “intemperate in both word and deed” with a “long-winded, meandering [writing] style” were all descriptors used for Mackenzie that would apply equally well to our friend Cityslikr. Mackenzie’s zealous hatred of the Upper Canadian ruling elite known as the Family Compact is matched, fiber by bitter fiber, by Cityslikr’s loathing of those ruling over the city with similar disregard within the walls of the Pink Palace of Queen’s Park.

Embrace your own history’s rebels is what I’m suggesting, as we begin the slow march to provincedom. The symbolism will resonate that much deeper. Label ourselves the WLMers. Hoist high the flag bearing the likeness of Montgomery’s Tavern. Proclaim the words of proto-Canadians not early Americans. For it was the very first mayor of the newly formed city of Toronto who wrote in the Declaration of the Reformers of the City of Toronto on July 31, 1837:

“Government is founded on the authority, and is instituted for the benefit, of a people; when, therefore, any Government long and systematically ceases to answer the great ends of its foundation, the people have a natural right given them by their Creator to seek after and establish such institutions as will yield the greatest quantity of happiness to the greatest number.”

Not William Lyon Mackenzie. William Lyon Mackenzie King.

So was said some 173 years ago again needs be uttered.

Viva La Province of Toronto!

revolutionarily submitted by Acaphlegmic