The other worrisome strand in Chow’s positioning is that she seems to have opted to play on Ford’s fiscal field, by Ford’s rules. As we all know, he’s planted deeply corrosive notions that such projects can be funded simply by making all those lazy civil servants work harder, or that the private sector will pay, or that the money will magically appear from some pot of cash heretofore reserved for the watering of plants, etc. Chow must engage with the funding question, and this election presents an important opportunity to make a case for solving the puzzle.
I don’t want fewer conservatives on council; balance is important. What I want are more conservatives who recognize the centrality of vigorous, fact-based policy debate; who value and practice civility in politics; and who understand both the mechanics and the role of consensus-building in local government.
Doug — allegedly the smarter brother, but not really — was absolutely tone-deaf on all three counts, and his absence, at least in this space, will not be missed.
The indispensible @JohnLorinc on the mayoral brother and the inseparability of civility and conservatism.
Asked to name what she regards as the highest priority project in the city, Horwath seemed to indicate that politics — and not sound transit planning — has been the NDP’s guide: “I think it’s those neighbourhoods in the outskirts of this city that aren’t receiving the transit they need.” When a reporter asked about the Downtown Relief Line, she replied: “I think it’s a mugs game to try to divide this city in terms of who needs transit more. We have to address all of these concerns.”
Sounds to me like the NDP leader thinks the DRL is all about relieving congestion for downtowners. Maybe she needs to turn off the Ford’s radio show and realize the value of the line in Scarborough and North York.
… there’s no reason to push for a by-election. Indeed, I’d argue that a spring by-election would merely make a deeply unhealthy political dynamic worse. The city desperately needs a break from Ford Fest so council can get back to work on the issues that matter of the residents of Toronto.
In a recent Toronto Life essay on the need for renewed urban leadership for the city, Richard Florida unsparingly sets out the long-term risks of pursuing Ford’s “anti-urban” agenda. But he told me last week his warnings have fallen on deaf ears, with barely a peep by way of response from Bay Street and the corporate elites. “Many Torontonians including our business leadership claim to want Toronto to be a great global city like London or New York,” Florida said in an email. “But they say nothing about the casino, nothing about the mayor. They just want it to somehow `happen.’ I cannot understand the failure of the business community to speak out. The mayor is ruinous to them – he and his policies hinder and hamper their ability to attract talent. How do they not see this? Why don’t they speak out? Why do they acquiesce?”
Yet as these increasingly damaging episodes pile up, it is reasonable to ask why his closest political advisors – starting with chief of staff Mark Towhey – have done so little to persuade their boss to front small but politically resonant initiatives that would re-cast his mayoralty. They are, of course, in a murderously difficult situation, because their counsel is routinely thwarted by brother Doug, who only believes it’s been a good week if he’s poured more gasoline on the fire.
Via @JohnLorinc …
Ford, in absolutely all facets of his life, obeys the rules except when they don’t follow his own superseding logic; he always has and always will. Whether it’s a conflict of interest, or reading while driving, or any of at least a couple dozen things, if he deems something appropriate, then the rules can go fuck themselves, ‘cause he’s Rob Ford and he knows best. I’m not sure how many times he can get away with the same defense, but it’s worked for him so far and I expect it’ll work this time as well.
@JohnLorinc and @GraphicMatt on Rob Ford and conflict of interest | #TOpoli
Two important and necessary takes from two of the smartest and most thoughtful observers in Toronto politics.
Matt argues that while Rob Ford’s record doesn’t exactly look good on him, this conflict-of-interest kerfuffle shouldn’t trigger his removal from office. He rightly points out that the law leaves no middle ground:
As it stands, the law is set up with little room for sway: either Ford is guilty and he’s removed from office or he’s innocent and he walks away cleanly. It’s kind of like if the only possible criminal penalties for petty theft were nothing or death by firing squad.
By contrast, John points out that
… the mayor, in the past, seems to have been familiar enough with the municipal conflict laws, and attentive enough to council debates, to know when to stick his hand up after the speaker asks for declarations of conflict.
I can certainly understand the argument that Rob Ford won the election, and that regardless of what we may think of him, he’s entitled to serve out his mandate to the best of his ability. Because Matt’s right in more than one sense: previously, he’s argued that engineering Ford’s removal via this conflict-of-interest process is going to look like “sore losers” to some of his supporters.
It’s a compelling argument, and in an ideal world, I’d find it hard to disagree with his contention that if Rob Ford is to be removed from office, it should be because someone else manages to persuade more voters to support his or her vision of the city. Ultimately, though, I think Matt’s analysis founders on the Can’t Have it Both Ways shoals. As I suggested on his site:
You’re right, it’s disturbing to think that there’s nothing in between skating and removal from office, and there’s a very strong argument that there should be. By the same token, though, you’re also right to point out that there’s no middle ground between flagrant disregard or staggering incompetence either. I’d be more sympathetic if it were just the football thing, but when the guy actually stands up at council and argues, essentially, that the rules shouldn’t apply to him, the wiggle room disappears.
So which is it? If there’s no middle ground on the offence, then why should there be a middle ground on the penalty? Rules are rules, and they’re there for a reason. Yeah, the droolers of Ford Nation will lose their shit, but when did they ever not?
The Liberals, bless their souls, have revealed nothing whatever about how they intend to carve the turkey. I don’t think they have a clue.
John Lorinc on the province’s, er, “prudent” approach to public transit and how to fund, plan, and build it.
Indeed, a new phrase – “they really Forded that issue” – should enter our lexicon.