Thursday, April 24, 2008

George Smitherman for Toronto mayor in 2010!

Since voting for David Miller in the 2003 Toronto mayoral election, I have been wholly unimpressed by his performance in the mayor's chair. After he stopped the plan to build a bridge to the island airport shortly after winning office, Miller seemed to simply stop delivering on his many promises, which included cleaning up the city's backrooms and old-style politics. Instead, he formed a centre-left coalition with many of council's NDP members, seizing power from the centre-right coalition that governed the city under bumbling former mayor Mel Lastman.

In 2006, Miller won easy re-election over a very weak Tory opponent in Jane Pitfield. I voted in that election for some fringe student candidate whose name now escapes me, mostly as a protest against my choices.

But Miller's recent imposition of a new land transfer tax, gouging homeowners to allegedly balance the city's budget, was the final straw. His insistence on needing more tax revenue was undermined by the clear waste that still permeates the City of Toronto's government.

I'm certainly no reactionary, knee-jerk Tory who demands tax freezes at all costs. But Miller refused to push our city's councillors to give up their daily limo rides about town amid all the cost-cutting discussions last year. Even Members of Provincial Parliament don't get such perks. At the same time, he insisted ordinary people pay thousands more for simply selling their homes or renewing their drivers' licenses.

I bought my first condo late last year, so I was exempt from the new Toronto land transfer tax this time. But knowing what tax gouging awaits me in the future does not make me happy.

So I'm looking for new leadership at Toronto City Hall.

That's why all of the recent talk of a possible George Smitherman mayoral candidacy in 2010 makes me very, very excited. I've known George since 1996, before he stepped out of the backrooms to win the Toronto Centre-Rosedale seat in the Ontario legislature and become Ontario's first openly gay M.P.P.

Who are we kidding? George would make a fabulous and inspiring mayor for this city. For what it's worth, he would have my full support over our lacklustre Dipper-light incumbent.

Please, George, go for it!


FreedomOfExpression said...

Matt Guerin has posted an opinion that George would make a "fabulous and inspiring" mayor for this city.

While both fabulous and inspiring are good qualities a mayor might possess; I hope that Matt's ultimate choice of who to vote for is not restricted alone to the candidate's sexuality, fabulosity, or how inspired he feels by the idea of voting for him.

The city is in trouble, both in a financial and planning sense. The person we need to elect is someone who can provide a path out of these difficulties and the leadership and vision that marks such a person.

According to interviews, while George understands that there is a problem with the city budget, he has said he will have to familiarize himself with it before he can comment on what he might do to assist things along. So perhaps we should wait until that happens to see whether we like his ideas or not.

And we mustn't forget that as a politician, George was fair game to the media; and he brings a history of questions uncovered by investigative media under each of his various ministries in provincial politics, possibly due to a one or another of a combination of poor advice, oversights or shallow planning while they were under his supervision. So, although he is long in the tooth as far as being a politician is concerned, we have to ask ourselves the tough question as to whether his track record indicates that he would make the kind of mayor the city needs now, or not. For example, was it the kind of good decision making we can respect to gamble a solid, established political career on the outcome of an as-yet undecided election?

Yes, it's exciting to consider that one of one's community is running for Mayor. But the bottom line is that there will be a number of candidates to also choose from; and our best choice ought to be based upon the merit more than political ambition of the candidates.

Will all those of a particular religious persuasion, or all those from a particular geographic background vote only for those whose similar persuasion or background matches their own? I would hope not.

The mayoralty is a very serious leadership position in this city for which we need to employ a very careful examination of all the candidates on their own merits before we hire one. We owe that to ourselves after electing the last one on a bandwagon of enthusiasm and getting kicked in the butt with a $2-3 hundred million addition to our already overweighted deficit in return for the favour.

Matt Guerin said...

I have yet to make up my mind over who to vote for mayor of Toronto. Now that John Tory is out of the race (as well as David Miller), it changes the dynamic considerably. George Smitherman possesses the managerial experience, both in municipal and provincial government to handle the job. He is also personable and tough, with an ability to connect with and inspire many across the spectrum. He would be a great mayor.

But I'll wait to see how the race pans out and who else runs before deciding. My decision will not be based on George's sexuality. Although if George's straight opponents start putting out advertising that highlights their 'heterosexuality' (loving family photos with the opposite sex spouse, kids and dog, for example, with many descriptions on how their candidate is a "good, family man"), it might inspire me to help out my community candidate, who is also a good "family man", just not your traditional, heterosexual family man.

George is a street fighter and a classic example of a leader who has worked his way up from nothing. He's not perfect, he has a reputation for being a bit of a bully in the back rooms. But he's a great candidate. So we'll see.