Sunday, July 29, 2018

Toronto mayoral contest off to dispiriting start

By Nathaniel Laxer

The final day for mayoral nominations has passed, and, for all intents and purposes, we can say that the election has begun. So who are the candidates?

Well for starters, there is the incumbent: failed mayoral candidate, turned failed candidate for Premier, turned Mayor of Toronto, John Tory, whose fairly uninteresting rise to power in the 2014 election has resulted in a fairly uninteresting and stagnant tenure. This has been characterized by failures -- such as the joke of a transit plan that was SmartTrack -- and really not much else.

With Tory being pretty mediocre, who are the other choices? There is former Toronto chief planner Jennifer Keesmaat, who’s big “bold” ”policy” pledge so far to solve Toronto’s ill’s is to tweet that Toronto should somehow separate into its own province. What area would this province encompass? Is it just Toronto or the entire GTA? How would this be possible constitutionally? And how will this actually accomplish anything and genuinely help Torontonians with the issues of transit, housing prices and poverty?

Who knows? If Jennifer Keesmaat does we have yet to see it with her leading point for the idea being “why shouldn’t a city of 2.8 million have self governance?”. Using this same logic, there would be 20 new American states, ranging from New York to Orlando.

Needless to say, a "province of Toronto" would not actually solve systemic issues in this city. Who is to even say this new province would have progressive politics, given that this is the same city that elected Rob Ford only 8 years ago and has John Tory as Mayor with plenty of right wing councillors.

Who else is there? The only other candidate getting any real media attention at the moment is reactionary, islamophobic Rebel News contributor, turned “Euro-Canadian Catholic Nationalist” (weird way to spell fascist) Faith Goldy. Her main campaign plank is (surprise, surprise) to bring back TAVIS and carding. She also wants to end bike lanes and supports the usual racist anti-immigrant malarkey typical of her type. She has gone full steam ahead trying to capitalize on the tragic Danforth shooting to promote her brand of dangerous nonsense. She even tweeted in defense of the man recently arrested for his racist harassment and assault of a Muslim family at the Jack Layton ferry terminal.

This kind of disgusting candidate should not get any support, but unfortunately she just might in a climate of increasingly open racism in Canada and the west generally.

There are a couple of interesting and progressive candidates in the race such as community activists Sarah Climenhaga and Saron Gebresellassi (who has some solidly left platform planks). Unfortunately, as is to be expected, neither has received any major coverage from the media or pundits, and they are unlikely to going forward.

This may end up also being true for issues like poverty, income inequality and so many other important discussions we need to be having. This mayoral race is shaping up to be something of a dispiriting one, with a boring right wing "centrist", a faux progressive and a reactionary white nationalist getting all the attention and derailing serious debate.

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