I watched CityVote 2006 in full glorious HD vision last night on CityTV. CityTV had set up a panel of 4 reporters, two from City and two from the Toronto Star; they also had a select audience from which they picked out four people to ask additional questions. Being a downtown, NDPish station, I expected them to have packed the audience with Millerites. I got quite the surprise at the end. But more on that later.
The combatants were Jane Pitfield, David Miller, and Stephen LeDrew. Pitfield looked her usual self, Miller looked spiffed up, and LeDrew had had serious grooming right down to his brows and to putting on professional glasses. The latter changed after the first commercial break, back to those giant hornglasses.
The opening statements were forgettable from LeDrew and Miller. Miller is rather wooden when delivering prepared speeches, which I found surprising. Pitfield's though was dreadful. I don't like the turning to Miller, profile to the camera, asking questions type of speech. Whoever dreamed that up needs a serious talking to. I have no idea what she said, and so although not forgettable, it still didn't make an impact in terms of content.
The first three topics -- crime, transportation, and taxes -- were debated in a fairly civilized manner. The two men tower over Pitfield, and Miller has a booming voice. As a result, Pitfield looked insignificant on the screen when seen with the other two. That was unfortunate, but couldn't be helped. It's not like you can give an adult woman instant growth pills. However, someone ought to have recommended vocal coaching so that she at least could use her voice to project a powerful presence. Her voice is far quieter than Miller's, who moreso than flamboyant LeDrew, just used the power of his vocal chords to dominate the debate. But I noticed that despite her inability to be heard in the beginning until City trained its cameras on her, in essence shutting up (usually) Miller, she became better by the quarter hour at projecting her voice so that we clearly heard her wit during Miller's bombast. Nice.
Garbage really tore the lid off the civility. And was when I had my first serious doubts about Pitfield. What is it about municipal politicians: do they simply stick their heads in the sand and ignore all the technological advances going on around them? Miller is a landfill troglodyte. Pitfield is at least aware that incinerators are clean and efficient now and not at all like their belching ancestors. But she, like all those NDP activists, wants to take on the rod-wielding parental role and smack us when we're bad bad bad in figuring out what goes where when sorting our garbage. She wants to institute bag tags and clear plastic bags. That's so 1950s. As LeDrew pointed out (sanity! Thank heavens for a note of sanity in the debate! Too bad he kept his comments to a minimum and didn't expound on it.) we have mechanical and technological ways to sort our garbage. We do NOT have to have individuals sorting the garbage anymore. We do NOT have to depend on the mentally challenged, who can barely get out of bed never mind get the garbage out the door never mind having it all properly sorted; nor the physically challenged for whom the green bins are a nightmare of pain and frustration to open and close; nor the brain injured who need post-it notes to remind them to brush their teeth never mind trying to figure out if kleenex goes in this bin or that bin; nor harried couples who cannot agree on whether cereal boxes go in this bin or that bag; nor the rich, lazy, and entitled who just dump all their garbage in one bag -- we don't need to depend on any of them to sort the garbage. The GARBAGE sorting plant will do all that, far more effectively and efficiently than any of us can and do. But apparently that's too 2006 thinking for Pitfield and Miller. You'd think the recycling spokeswoman would be for all the city carrying a bigger stick and making our garbage days more of a misery than they already are. But nope. She's still into Miller. He had one idea going for him. He suggested looking at the packaging industry. I suspect though it would not get much past the idea stage, just as it hasn't gotten past the idea stage in these last 3 years.
Pitfield has the certain support of the faith communities in her ideas for fighting crime. She has my absolute support for her idea of building 2km of subway line per year for the next 25 years, starting within her term (although she did not state where she'd build those subways). But her garbage ideas seriously concern me. The only hope is if LeDrew does the expected and bows out before the vote to join Pitfield's campaign, and in that joining gets her to join the 21st century when it comes to handling our garbage and getting the load off our shoulders.
Miller's idea of rapid transit -- streetcars and buses with right-of-ways -- is a joke and a vision of mediocrity. If my tax dollars, as a taxpayer in a have province, can pay for subway lines in Montreal, then why the heck can they not pay for them in my own city?
When CityTV took an informal poll of the audience at the end of the debate as to who they preferred, there was sustained and loud applause for Pitfield. LeDrew merited three clappers. And Miller got a rather muted response. I was quite surprised, and so it seemed were the hosts.