Take a long look at the political structure of Toronto.
The reality is that the framework of the city where the mayor gets one vote of 44 will continue to spawn and nurture the Rob Fords of the world.
Ford wasn’t the first – Mayor Mel who brought in the army for the snow and welcomed the Hell’s Angels to the city was the first – and Ford won’t be the last.
Mayor Miller in his second term was a very angry man. Remember his one penny campaign to get a slice of the GST – the fist pounding and the explosive exhortations?
The problem is that the only type of candidate who appears able to get in now is someone who purports not to go to work for City Hall but to clean it up. I hope I am wrong
Under the structure of the City as set out in Provincial law, voting factions are hard to form and political parties are not allowed. Therefore, the nation’s largest city is constantly in a clinch where not much of anything important seems to get done. Transit, roads, the waterfront, the Island and its airport – you name it – simply flounder in a stew of profound directionlessness. While other cities get on with the job, digging traffic tunnels and cleaning their lakefronts, proposals and plans in Toronto seem forever to sit atop an ever changing House of Cards floating on a porridge of quicksand.
The angry crusader who states the obvious to cranky voters gets much publicity but with many entrants and splintered factions, the angriest of the lot obtains the needed notice to get elected as did Ford, Miller and Mayor Mel Lastman, the latter whose private sector nom de plume continues to be the “Bad Boy”.
(Now that ought to tell you something.)
On the other side of the equation, the angry crusader mentality in human form – the guy or gal who is going to mop things up or stop gravy trains – has to have absolute zero skills in getting along with fellow councillors – all with their own single vote – and need not have any idea as to how to form or maintain alliances. Negotiation skills, the people skills or any of the other soft skills you’d like to see in a mayor are neither required nor considered desirable.
With one vote out of 44, the public expectations of the position are then way out of line with the reality of what he or she can actually accomplish. That sends the crusader off on a course where he goes back to what he does best – ranting disruptively with the explosive and angry tirades that he feels got him to be mayor in the first place. After all, isn’t that what catapulted Ford into power in the first instance? The answer is yes.
Until the ‘powers that be’ can figure this out, I am afraid we are going to have many more angry, utterly independent and crusading outsiders winning the largest directly elected seat of government in Canada.
The Harris government put this structure in place in the late 1990’s and it was christened the ‘megacity’ which at the time, we all pronounced as one would pronounce the word ‘mendacity’.
It has not worked from the beginning and it won’t work in the future. So we all need to get used to it.
As I said, I hope I am wrong.
But just in case, reserve a slot on US late night TV for whomever gets the mayor’s chair in this city – Ford could just be the beginning!