Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Really, Toronto?

I must qualify this post right from the beginning. I do not live within the regional boundaries of Toronto that would provide me any say whatsoever in the upcoming mayoral election. That understood, I do live in the massive area known as the GTA where every decision, large or small, petty or important, made down at Nathan Phillips does carry significant impact for my neighbours and me, whether the denizens of the city choose to recognize it or not. Believe me when I say with no irony whatsoever, that we up here in the self-described "City Above Toronto" have our own municipal cesspool to deal with, so fixating on your election follies down there was not something I had anticipated, but I just have to ask-REALLY, TORONTO? What are you thinking?

I realize that the last 7 or so years have not been a bed of roses. The current office holder has been worse than anticipated no matter on which side of the political spectrum you sit. There have been tax increases, traffic bedlam, no truly cohesive transit strategy, bike lanes to nowhere, streetcar lanes from hell, a municipal strike that left garbage rotting in the summer heat, children without camp and parents without daycare. I get it. Toronto is ready for a change, but again I have to ask-REALLY, TORONTO? What are you thinking?

According to the latest poll, the residents of Canada's sixth largest economy are about to elect a loud, often boorish, and totally devoid of any cohesive platform other than save money on the paperclips at city hall, west end councillor as their new mayor. This man has spent more time over the last ten years being called on the carpet for his bad behaviour than a raunchy frat boy. Interviews with citizens around the city over the past few days have revealed a real distrust for politics as usual, and a willingness to try any new formula, no matter the history. They seem to like his in your face honesty and political incorrectness. They like that he supposedly speaks up for them and not for the interests of political machines. They like that he tells it as he sees it and they like that he goes from the gut, rather than studying it all to death. Where have we heard that before? W, anyone?

I would love a politician that is honest too. Believe me, I would. I would love for them to just get down to work and solve the real problems facing our society. I would love somebody-anybody-to actually say that having to pay taxes really sucks but having crappy sewers, gridlock, and potholes suck more. I would love for somebody to stand up to the union bosses and tell them the hard truths that job security is a thing of the past. I would love for somebody to stand up to developers and tell them that the free ride is over. I would love for somebody to push through a cohesive transit solution that isn't so parochial that it only takes into account the boundaries of the 416 area code and doesn't factor in those who actually NEED to drive their cars to work. I would love all of this, but again I have to ask-REALLY TORONTO? Is Mr. Etobicoke the answer? What are you thinking?

We currently find ourselves in a season of anti-establishment candidacies around the world. Chantal Hebert, a national columnist in The Toronto Star wrote just today about how governments from around the world are being turfed and forced into coalitions in order to function. One only has to turn on the TV these days to see the absolute bedlam occurring during these midterm elections in the United States. Voters are desperately searching for alternatives to the status quo and the citizens of Toronto are certainly no exception. But I urge all of you who do have a vote, to use it wisely. If Mr. Etobicoke is really the guy who you think will help address the serious issues facing our city, than who am I to tell you otherwise. But, if you are planning on entering the voting booth with the idea that he couldn't be worse, I urge you to rethink that position. REALLY, TORONTO? Start thinking!!


  1. All I can add is....Toronto, if you thought Mel Lastman was an embarrassment, you ain't seen nuthin' yet. For the love of God, don't elect this buffoon!

  2. Really, Ms Cantor?

    Stick to singing, Dawn.

    What qualifies you to advise your flock? A taste for cultural subsidies and freebies? A taste for form over substance?

    I have personal experience of dealing with Rob Ford. He was extremely helpful when he had no cause to be. My own councillor was the problem, when she acted against city guidelimes and rules to instal traffic calming against the vote of the Toronto residents nearby.

    I respectfully suggest you vote in your own elections, and don't abuse your platform and your credibility as a cantor.

  3. Dear Anonymous,
    This blog has absolutely nothing to do with my job as a cantor, but rather is and always has been my personal views. I am not advising anybody to do anything. Everybody is free to choose their own path, as I hope you will allow me to choose mine. If Rob Ford is your candidate of choice-go to it. I am simply stating my opinion that I don't agree.

    As for your misguided and rather cruel statements about my need for cultural subsidies and freebies-I suggest you get your facts straight. I pay my own way-always!! I have never once been on the public payouts in any way shape or form and I resent the implication.

    I am glad that you had a positive experience with Councillor Ford. I am simply stating that I do not believe he is qualified to be mayor. My opinion. As for voting up here-get real. What happens there does not occur in some bubble. We are all affected by the decisions and choices of others. Good luck to you and yours.

  4. Dear Dawn:

    Chill out and don't be so quick to take offence. I never meant to imply you have personally benefited from public purse cultural subsidies. I doubt many cantors have.

    One can, of course, have a taste for cultural subsidies without directly pocketing the proceeds. I doubt "Friends of Canadian Broadcasting" are personally enriched. What they want -- and very successfully get -- is for people who never watch CBC to fund amateurish CBC projects which they, in their PC ignorance, approve of.

    I also find it wholly disingenuous of you to say you are not advising anybody to do anything, when the total thrust of what you say is to suggest it is insanity to even contemplate voting for Ford. No one needs you to remind them they can vote for Ford if they wish, they already know that.

    As for Ms Paikin, I smiled when I saw her slavishly following the elitist line on Ford as a "buffoon". It is precisely this kind of silly arrogance that will get Ford elected. Easy for her to throw out hurtful words, but I'd be impressed -- and surprised -- if she has a fraction of his common sense, courage and honesty.

    For the record, I have no idea whether Ford will make a great mayor or not. All I know is that he will make a far better mayor than the oh-so-polished Mayor Miller with his taste for expensive ratepayer-funded junkets to far-off places to spout hot air about world problems. Miller preferred to pontificate on problems totally beyond his experience and intellectual grasp, and to borrow and tax ratepayers for his personal preferences.

    Ford, at least, will stick to his knitting and not treat ratepayers' money as his own preserve. The support he is getting is amazing considering the almost total hostility of the media, right as well as left.

    It's a heartening testament to the fact that voters are not always sheep listening to self-appointed pundits and pseudo-intellectuals.

  5. Really, Anonymous?

    Just wondering why a cantor doesn't get to have an opinion? Or is it that a cantor only gets to have an opinion so long as you like it?

    Also just wondering which platform she is abusing? Is it the blogging platform? Seems to me that expressing opinion is the point of blogging.

    Maybe I am not thinking clearly though as I still have her beautiful voice in my head from the amazing job she did on the High Holidays.

    In reflection, I do not recall her ever once discussing her political views or any other views for that matter from the bima (raised platform). So I am not sure why you would accuse her of abusing her platform.

    As a member of her flock, I can tell you that we are a group intelligent people who know the difference between a cantor in her professional role as a leader, and a private citizen who writes a blog that we chose to read. Stating an opinion in the midst of religious worship is one thing, stating an opinion in a personal blog is entirely another.

    By the way - I am glad you like Ford, and that he was helpful to you in your situation. I have some concerns about city councils time being wasted dealing with his anticipated antics, instead of the needs of the Toronto and GTA.


  6. Dear Anonymous (aka not brave enough to actually state your name)

    I have known Karen Paiken for many years. She has common sense in abundance, tremendous courage, and her honesty is without question! If you actually knew her you would surely be impressed!

    If you want to state an opinion regarding a political candidate by all means do so. Insulting people on a personal level, especially when you don't even know them is the height of arrogance, or did I mean to say ignorance?!


  7. Anonymous,

    It's a blog, not the news. It's commentary. If you disagree with something, share your thoughts in a constructive way and back them up with a mature analysis, rather than just tossing out ad hominem attacks.

    Dawn was pretty forthcoming in asserting that she doesn't get to vote in Toronto, but that this doesn't mean she's not entitled to have an opinion (and share it) on an election that in fact has great influence on her life in the GTA in many ways.

    If you want people to "chill out" and not "take offence," maybe you should get out of the fire and not post comments on blogs... you can't engage in heated dialogue without being willing to take some heat yourself.

    For all your talk of "slavish", "self-appointed pundits and pseudo-intellectuals," we have yet to see any constructive criticism in your comments.