Monday, November 13, 2006

Vote Ontario! Vote Toronto!!!

I've lived in Toronto most of my life and love this city. I would not want to live anywhere else, although I've travelled to many countries and explored cities like London, New York, and Paris, among others. However, I find living here becoming more and more stressful. It's not the pace of the big city versus old hogtown that makes it more stressful; it's what the politicians that we have elected have turned it into.

I trace Toronto's decline back to Mayor Art Eggleton. He perfected the art of doing nothing, coasting on the successes of previous Mayors and city bureacrats. Like anything that's well-run and well-designed that can work for years without anyone performing maintenance, the city kept ticking along; but eventually like the subway crash in the Spadina Line tunnel, the little nicks, the little scrapes, the little gouches, suddenly erupted into a filthy city full of grumbling, stressed, unhappy citizens. This is where Toronto is at. It is now out in the open that other communities, our own province which we are the capital of, and our country hate us and will not support us, whether it's bidding for Expo or getting back on track with subway building. They feel comfortable enough in showing us this openly because our Mayor is too weak to stop it or hold a mirror up to them and because they know Torontonians will shrug their shoulders and go to work, that we will do nothing.

Unlike the French, we won't riot in the streets until the government listens. Unlike Hungarians and Ukrainians, we won't protest en masse day after day. Unlike the Israelis, we won't re-evaluate our politicians and vote accordingly. No, we will re-elect the leaders who have not achieved anything for us, who have watched our city continue to deteriorate while declaring things are better, who have worsened our relationship with surrounding communities and the higher levels of government. We will re-elect them because they're familiar to us and because they spout the right-sounding words. We will re-elect them because the idealogues will ensure they'll get out the vote, knowing that most of us won't bother. We will re-elect them because we try to rationalize doing the easy thing: In the words of one person, though David Miller has been a disappointment, he has built a strong foundation. That's an oxymoron. How can one be a disappointment and be able to build a foundation at the same time? But that's the definition of insanity: doing the same thing again and expecting a different result this time. Insanity is easy.

If Torontonians want a vibrant, livable city again, they have to get out, vote, and toss out the incumbents. We have to gird our loins and not be afraid to vote for someone who may actually take bold actions, to vote for a Mayoral candidate who has outlined concrete actions, not the Mayor who gushes the familiar words that make us feel good, but who did not even achieve the one thing he declared he was most passionate about -- stopping the expansion of the Toronto Island airport. His failure has cost us $35 million. Re-electing him will cost us this city.

2 comments:

James Bow said...

Well, I'm sure you're disappointed with the results.

It's true that I'm far less pessimistic about David Miller than you are, but I always thought you were a little hard on him. Yes, he did not live up to the expectations he set for himself three years ago, but compared to what Toronto was like with Mel Lastman and his associates in power, there *has* been a noticable improvement in this city. The problem is, we have a long way to come back after the bad old days of the mid 1990s. We have a nearly dysfunctional system that the province has only tinkered with, and a fundamentally flawed structure of taxation. The abilities of any mayor is going to be limited. I strongly suspect that if Pitfield had won, and had to face reality, a lot of people would have been calling for her head in 2010.

Miller made a mistake in raising expectations too high in 2003, but then, on some level, you have to do that, and I can't fault Pitfield from doing the same, but somehow I believed Miller more than I believed Pitfield; perhaps because his plans seemed more achievable, and were less pie (subways) in the sky.

The come down is always hard, but Miller and his council did achieve some improvements in the intervening years. It takes time to turn a ship around. The voters who chose to vote must have noticed that. We'll see what things are like in 2010, and adjust our responses accordingly.

talk talk talk said...

James, do try not to sound quite so gleeful! On a serious note, Torontonians are nothing if not absolutely, totally, boringly predictable in their voting for the Incumbents. As far as I can ascertain, the only new Councillors on Toronto City Council are those elected where the Incumbents did not run again. I'm not sure why that is, when in other jurisdictions races are tight and Incumbents sometimes lose. Either Torontonians don't like change or they just vote for the familiar name, the one they've seen for the past 3 years.

On the bright side, I heard that the turn-out was 41%, higher than last time. Now, I've got to do the mundane job of updating my blog site.