Saturday, September 18, 2010


"... anger is a very bad emotion to build a city on" (David Crombie, former Toronto Mayor)


50 Mayoral Debates so Far? 40 to go? So far we have: angry voters plus 'front-runner' candidates jumping on bandwagons to be popular at all costs (It's time to stop bashing the city, look ahead and be positive says a Maytree opinion piece: )

Former mayors discuss quality of debate, in Globe and Mail: ) audio and print

I hear from so many people that they are still undecided or wish their were better candidates running for Mayor. I would bet that 90% of voters don't realize there are 41 choices for Mayor, some of them with great ideas (HiMY SYeD is one). However our mainstream media have hammered over and over that we Torontonians have only 5 choices.

As voters, we all really need to seek out information on our own to find the hidden gems of policies and ideas, and question both candidates and our media about them.

There is a mayoral debate happening September 29th. You can go to ArtsVote at to vote for a new voice at thise mayoral debates.

Some of MY (Ken Wood's) thoughts on Mayoral leadership and vision issues for our city:

  1. Amalgamation hurt our neighbourhoods - but we are stuck with it now. It has NOT saved us money, as promised by Mike Harris. We need to find a way to regain our local neighbourhood identities and control. (I am intrigued by mayoral candidate Himy Syed's idea of having 4 deputy mayors responsible for ensuring we pay more attention to regions). The needs of the suburbs are not the same needs as downtown, for example. There is a constant push-pull on councillors to think city-wide and to think local. One novel suggestion I have made is that the TTC Chair be a separate elected position, requiring the unique transit skills set to pay full attention to this major portfolio.
  2. Cutting council size from 44 to 22 is a mistake. Right now each councillor is responsible for about 50,000 people. That is a lot, especially considering the level of detailed issues that is handled at city level. It is often said that the level of government that most directly affects our lives is local government.
  3. Diversity Needs Attention! "Diversity is Our Strength" is Toronto's motto. Politicians talk the talk on diversity, but as a city we do not walk the walk. It is not just a matter that there are not more faces of colour/culture on city council, it is that the big city is not reaching our very diverse population. There are about 180 languages spoken in Toronto, yet the city (except for the great 311 initiative) does a poor job of reaching out to its citizens whose first language is not English. We first need to find better ways to communicate TO and hear FROM our neighbours who are new immigrants. Equally important is finding ways to INVOLVE new immigrants and our diverse population - and I am talking about involvement in power structures, not just acknowledging their cultures.
  4. Poverty/Homelessness/Hunger: We still see these social ills everywhere, and although there has been some progress, we should not sit on our laurels and assume enough has been done. Where is the leadership (or attention!) on this ! ... Note: I regret having missed a mayoral debate on this "Building a Fairer Toronto for All" at Innis town hall Sept 15, reported in the Toronto Observer: It is clear to me the current crop of 5 media-chosen contenders haven't a clue here. I guess it takes the lived experience of poverty to realize this. I can be the "Poor People's Councillor" but where is the "Poor People's Mayor" ?
  5. Turf Wars: There is an enormous disconnect between School Boards and City Council. Lots of PUBLIC resouces available (like schools, land) but due to archaic constitutional issues there is a separation of powers between education and municipal government. It is not good enough for mayoral leaders (or councillors) to duck the issue as "oh that's provincial". Anything can be changed, given political will. There is only one taxpayer - school land, facilities belong to all of us. Let's use them wisely.
One former mayor said (paraphrasing):

Elections are about CHARACTER.
How can we know we can trust that person with the keys to the shop?

We really all do need to do our homework on finding out who has the character to lead... because: