Saturday, December 28, 2013

Deperately seeking Toronto’s Nenshi

Purple reign
Is it time for Canada’s largest city to have its very own purple rain?

The Editorial Board of the Globe & Mail seem to think so.

They frame the issue this way:

Toronto needs to be rethought from its suburbs inward, not from its centre outwards. And its politics have to move beyond tired, left vs. right clichés.

Mayor Rob Ford has been less than successful in competently running the city, reducing its council meetings to high farce, worthy of earlier British comedy skits more than of the governing board of a major city.

The G&M is scathing about Toronto’s recent mayors:
Olivia Chow

Toronto will face an acid test of its character and its future in the 2014 municipal general election. Will it re-elect a polarizing mayor who divides the city along ideological and class lines? Or will it finally produce a pan-municipal candidate worthy of the diversity of diversities that makes up Toronto? In the 16 years since amalgamation, Toronto has never got its mayoral groove on, jumping from the clownish, populist furniture peddler Mel Lastman to the left-wing, Harvard-educated lawyer David Miller to the right-wing, elite-bashing problem child Mr. Ford.

The Board then goes to to nix two apparent contender for mayor, Chow and Tory:
John Tory

The biggest disaster of the coming year, in municipal terms, would be for Mr. Ford’s opponents to blithely throw their weight behind a candidate – any candidate – who is his deliberate opposite; a non-Rob Ford from one of the city’s tonier neighbourhoods with well-polished establishment credentials. Two who come to mind are Olivia Chow, the MP, former city councillor and widow of Jack Layton, and John Tory, the 2004 mayoral candidate, former Ontario Conservative leader and current radio talk-show host.

The G&M is right. It is time for Toronto to look beyond party lines, beyond past methods of mayorial selection, to someone with the skills to unite the fractious city, inspire Torontonians with vision, and inspan them into a collective effort to make Toronto great again. Olivia Chow is not the person – her instincts are conditioned by her long stint in the most class-conscious political party in Canada. John Tory is also, in my view, the wrong person to become mayor, bringing to the table the same tired, partisan outlook and solutions that Toronto has suffered under.

The G&M puts its finger on the problem facing Torontonians:

It is time for Toronto to grow up. The coming year should not be about unseating Mr. Ford at all costs, a temptation his opponents and voters may fall into; 2014 should be about finding a candidate for mayor who is able to transcend the tired downtown/suburbs and left/right divides that Mr. Ford exploits so gleefully and effectively, and which his predecessors failed to manage. Someone who has a vision for the entire city, who can transform the caustic effects of amalgamation with the alchemy of true city-building.

It is time for Toronto to seek a technocratic prince, its own purple reign, along the lines of the charasmatic Naheed Nenshi who upset the applecart in Calgary, bringing that city into the era of professional management.
Toronto's Purple Rain

Toronto needs its own Nenshi – someone who has not sold his or her soul to one political party or one social class; who listens as much as he talks; who brings the power of an educated, finely honed intellect to the city’s accumulated problems; who can prioritize the problems, and set about solving them one by one, over time and with the support of a re-energized, vigorous and participating Toronto.

Let the search for Toronto’s Naheed Nenshi begin.


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