Friday, September 25, 2009

Why Did Miller Announce Now That He's Not Running?

An English friend asked me if Mayor David Miller was generally liked or respected. As I answered him, I thought about why is Miller really resigning, not what I and others think about his decision not to run again.

Before the garbage strike, Miller seemed invincible, a third term inevitable. Torontonians do like to elect same old, same old -- give him another chance though he's screwed up royally was what I heard during the last election, so they did. This past summer, the city went on strike but it was the garbage workers striking that caught everyone's attention. They attacked people, caused long lineups, and all for a sick day bank that looked like paradise to everyone being hit by the recession. Miller said he was going to get rid of it. He didn't. He just instituted a short term disability plan for new employees; old employees got to keep their bank if they wanted to. The strike was almost 40 days. Windsor had a 3-month strike. Their city didn't look like a pig sty during or after it because their Mayor got garbage cleaned up every day -- Miller didn't as basically he didn't want to stand up in the union's face. Windsor got what it wanted; Toronto did not.

So Miller's numbers tanked. Worst any pollster has seen. And then this week, we learnt that the sick day bank was going to cost almost double what he said it would during the strike. That seemed to cement his low polling numbers. But I think he would've been re-elected.Torontonians are nothing but short on memory, long on not wanting change. He had 14 months to change minds, but some of his supporters were said to be leaving and two strong male contenders were going to enter the field.

So was it his family? I think family concerns played a small part in his decision not to run again; they are a good reason -- he said he made it back in 2006 but didn't tell anyone but himself -- but I don't think it was the primary reason. I think the revelations this week were the deciding factor.

And I also suspect he wants to make room for another contender, one we haven't heard about yet, one whom he'll consider his replacement. He doesn't want to pull a Mulroney (Prime Minister Brian Mulroney resigned so late in office that his replacement Kim Campbell had no time to establish a separate presence, was tarred with hate for him, and was handily defeated in the next election). He wants to give his successor a chance to win. That's my theory anyway!

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