Monday 25 October 2010

Toronto Mayoral Race: And the winner is...

Rob Ford: 49%

George Smitherman: 34%

Joe Pantalone: 11%

Rob Ford is elected Toronto's 64th mayor Monday, October 25, 2010. Voter turnout was around 50% of eligible voters, up from the 39% who cast votes in the last election which saw David Miller come into office.

Without a doubt, Rob Ford's message of change hit a cord with the voting public who have certainly expressed how they are fed up with the way things are. His 4 word slogan "Stop the gravy train" became a key part of his campaign communication. "It's about the taxpayer's money." With this win, Ford is going from councillor to running a Canada's largest city government with an operating budget of $9.2 billion.

My vote
Considering that only 39% of the eligible voters went out to get David Miller in office; quite a bit of apathy, no? I wanted to make sure I did my civic duty.

I go out Monday afternoon around 2pm to my polling station thinking it will be a time with few people and I won't have to wait. One hundred per cent correct. I get signed in; somebody gives me my ballot and I sit down to mark my choices. What the hey? I had no idea there were so many names under the category for mayor. Tonight I'm looking at the City of Toronto web site and their list of candidates for mayor. I count 40 names! And that doesn't count the 13 names listed as having withdrawn. Did I miss a meeting? Have I (obviously!) not been following all this too closely from the beginning? ¡Ay, caramba! A few people never got around to shaking this hand.

Congratulations Mr. Ford
You have won by a successful margin. There is no doubt you have a mandate supported by many Torontonians. Tonight we celebrate. It is the start of a new era, one which will herald the end of the status quo.

A note of caution
As we congratulate ourselves for having voted for the winner, I would like to temper the enthusiasm with a touch of reality. Politicians curry our favour during a campaign with the typical and sometimes ubiquitous if not trite "campaign promise". Ah how they promise us the world. And when they are out on the campaign trail, miles and months from actually ascending to the throne, the possibility of realising those grandiose promises seems like an almost sure thing.

However, once in office, after taking over the reins, that first bucket of cold reality gets splashed in their face and they are suddenly confronted with practice not hypothesis. Toronto, like any population, represents various diverse and competing interests. There is only so much in the pot, so the mayor as a leader has to strive to meet the demands and arrive at some sort of compromise. If not, we could all find ourselves in a stalemate where nobody wins.

It is those compromises that make newly elected officials delay promises, modify those promises or just renege on said promises. It can't necessarily be helped. How do you know whether the horse will buck until you actually take the reins?

The public is well known for having a short term memory. We all get ticked at whomever during their time in office but somewhere around the next election, we seem to be able to let bygones be bygones and sit rapturously before our favoured candidate as he or she spins a wonderful yarn about what promises they are going to keep once elected.

Let's not forget there is only so much in the pot and let's try to not forget that unions play a big part of Toronto fiscal landscape. I think of how France is has been having quite a time of it in their pension reforms and wonder what's up for our new mayor. Tonight, as we pop the champagne bottle, all is right with the world. Tomorrow, our new mayor is going to the office and will have to roll up his sleeves. Then we are going to see just which promises are kept and which ones are not. That pot is only so big and you can't please everybody. Sorry, am I being a pessimist at a time of victory? No, I'm just being a realist.


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