In 3 years I am going to bake a huge cake and decorate it with a perfectly executed fondant and rice crispy square LRT Car. Then I am going to push it into the City Council chamber on a cart decorated to look like a subway car. Covered in candles. Why? Because it will be the 30th anniversary of the great 1986 Transit debate that was supposed to transform Toronto. We’ve been arguing ever since and I do not doubt for one single second that we will still be arguing in 3 years. As a matter of fact I am hopeful that I will live to see the 50th anniversary and I do not doubt for one second more that we will still be arguing. I see no indication of change any time soon.
Am I the only person in Toronto completely gobsmacked by Nunziata’s actions regarding this debate? She allowed the item to be opened without taking it to council for a vote. Even though she was advised by the city clerk that it contravened protocol. For my money this isn’t even a legal debate. I cannot believe that councillors are not up in arms. I’m afraid I can only surmise that this is political position jockeying at its absolute worst. Toronto is now being held hostage to a bunch of people more concerned with their own political careers than the good of this city.
Is this why we elected these people? I am appalled. They are now all hiding behind the convenient smoke screen produced by our joke of a mayor and his even bigger joke of a brother. In my mind if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, drinks like a duck, it IS a duck. I’m afraid I am beginning to resign myself to another Ford victory. It will be our faults. We elected these self-serving fools who are all mired in personal agendas. To be sure I’m being a little unfair. There are at least a dozen good councillors. Thirty percent is not enough.
We don’t need to reconfigure wards, we don’t need to change our style of government, we don’t need to do anything more than find and elect a group of people who give a damn about this WHOLE city and its citizens. We have to stop staggering under the perceived weight of amalgamation and figure out how to make it work for us. It’s not going to go away. It is here to stay. This could be a good thing if we had politicians who could see past their own little communities. I once heard a councillor (a very good one) say to her constituents at a community meeting. “You elected me to represent your interests but when you elected me you made me responsible to the whole City of Toronto.” WOW! Now there’s a concept. her constits got it that night and there was a very reasonable debate following that comment. Where do we find a few more of those?
In the face of this insane transit debate I am coming to believe that the election of 2014 will be, possibly, the most important city election Toronto has ever seen. The very quality of our lives is at stake as it never has been before. We need the transit bull shit settled once and for all. We need to address how we deal with the poor and disenfranchised. We need to control the way we are expanding both up and out. We need to decide and act on the Portlands. There are so many really important things to deal with it becomes overwhelming.
I wonder how many people in Toronto even know what the job of City Councillor really entails. To hear our dear mayor tell it, all they have to do is sit in council for a couple of days squabbling like embarrassing children and then answer the phone a lot and talk to constituents. I happen to know from personal experience that the good councillors are putting in, bare minimum, 60 hours a week. That’s a minimum and they put in some time every single day of the week. The day there is nothing they feel they must do is a rare Sunday.
The mayor came into council and debated his first budget having NOT EVEN READ IT. He debated the Chong report having NOT EVEN READ IT. In fact he does not read any of these reports and it is often screamingly obvious in his debating skills. Now to be fair I cannot criticize him all by himself. I have heard it said that at least half of the councillors will not have read the reports they are debating. When you consider the amount of money these reports cost the city this becomes completely outrageous. The Chong report cost the city literally millions of dollars. I read it from cover to cover. I attended the debate. I can tell you with certainty who read it and who didn’t. Looking for gravy your honour? I think I just found some!
There are some simple facts to consider. The biggest one is Transit. Nobody denies we need to address our current crumbling system and expand and bolster it. Our problem is and continues to be, no one will sign off on a plan and commit to it once and for all. No more allowing successive governments to come in and undo what has been done. Does anyone remember that Transit City was already underway when Ford cancelled it. Costing the city 140 MILLION dollars in cancelled contracts and unfinished work. If he hadn’t done that we would have had 3 years of work on a new system already done. I don’t give a damn what we build anymore. JUST BUILD SOMETHING FOR THE LOVE OF GOD!
As I have said many times before. This is the 4th largest city in North America. A major financial market with a world-class reputation. Our federal government is quite happy to take our money and give us absolutely nothing in return. Our provincial government has its head in the sand in an effort to not see what is literally right in front of its nose. More and more we become a city of haves and have nots. I travel the TTC and chat people up. I hear about 90 minute rides to work EACH WAY. I hear people praise this mayor who lies to them at every turn. Who does not care one wit for their welfare. They read the headlines or listen to his radio show cause that’s all they have time for. He knows that and he’s the absolute King of the message.
This messaging stuff is beyond powerful and though the mayor is the reigning champion we have plenty of councillors on the same train. The secret to a better city government is educating the population to what is really going on. I don’t care who you vote for as long as you vote. But I insist that you know what the
candidates stand for behind the message. Do your research, attend the debates, ask questions, and when I ask you why you want to vote for whomever, have a real answer. That’s all. These people’s decisions have a far greater effect on our daily lives than any other level of government. Transit, hydro, roads, bike paths, parks, garbage pickup, rent control, building permits, and so on and so on and so on. Why in the name of God are we so careless with who we put in charge of deciding how these things happen?