Looking for a Mayor

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mr. Ford has vanished. Where? No-one knows and no-one wants to say. Generally, famous people confronting their demons make it a point to let their public know that they are on the mend and that they are sorry. But not so the Ford Brothers. To them, the supposed rehab tour is yet another opportunity for tawdry media exposure, to thumb their noses at the hard-working public, to share a laugh and to kill a few more days within the election cycle to avoid talking about any actual plans for the city’s future.

Frankly, regardless whether there is an actual rehab centre or not, I feel that $100,000 is not a “steal” for most “average guys” I know. Even at his supposed “rock bottom,” the mayor continues to demonstrate a total lack of understanding of, and respect for, the taxpayers that he claims to protect.

But you know what? Toronto keeps on going strong. Stronger, even, when we step out of the shadow of our gangster-wannabe mayor. Without his presence and despite that of his Gepetto-esque brother, Toronto is doing what it does best: working hard to pay rent and mortgages to distinguish itself as a centre of industry, of media, of business and of culture.

We have the summer ahead of us, finally. World Pride. The Toronto International Film Festival. Concerts. Shows. Events for kids. Charity runs. Canada Day. Restaurants. Community events. The Ford brothers continue to play their hide and seek games: with the public, with the media and with the truth. But what they don’t seem to realize is that this city is bigger than them. For more than 180 years – more actually –Torontonians from the docklands up to the farmlands have done what they have done best – working, innovating, raising families and living their lives, struggling through harsh winters and revelling in the warm days of spring and summer. In so doing we have all contributed to the city’s global reputation of being a great place to live: clean, well-organized and with great amenities.

When celebrity talk show hosts talk about Mr. Ford, they do so with incredulity. “That is so not the Toronto that I know,” they say. Celebrities may have their own foibles, of course, but their jokes and raised eyebrows represent the thoughts of many other world citizens who also ask, “What happened to Toronto?”

A mayor is expected to operate as the chief executive officer of a municipality. It is a serious position, and even though the mayor only has one vote, the role requires a responsible disposition, clear leadership and decision-making skills and a genuine respect for its citizens as well as the laws that they – we –are all expected and obliged to live by.

The position of mayor is not a role that any one person is entitled to, because of money, a career in politics, family ties or business ties. It is a position that must be won by listening to voters, understanding their needs and fulfilling a commitment to speak on their behalf.

This city isn’t just trying to find its current mayor. It is trying to find its proper mayor. Toronto needs someone who is realistic, tough and committed to further progress – someone who does not treat the role as a joke, a trip, or merely the next chapter in a personal political history.

That is what we are all looking for at this moment.

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