Friday, July 23, 2010

Toronto Talk

FRIDAY, JULY 23, 2010


Today’s topic is close to my heart. I am going to ruminate about the future of Toronto, Ontario, my hometown and the city of my birth.

On October 25th, Torontonians will go to the polls and elect a new mayor for this growing metropolis. The City of Toronto has a population of about 2.6 million people, which means that the new mayor will preside over a city with more people than six of Canada’s ten provinces. According to Statistics Canada’s 2009 estimates, only Ontario (12.7 million) Quebec (7.6 million), British Columbia (4.2 million) and Alberta (3.2 million) have larger populations than the City of Toronto.

The new mayor will have a four-year term. These will be crucial years in the development of our city. It would be disastrous to be stuck with a poorly performing mayor for the next four year. To be brutally frank, I am not impressed with any of the current candidates. I’m not sure whom to vote for. I want to like at least one of the candidates. I really do. Alas, I am dismayed. None of them inspires me. None of them seems to have a vision, a passion for this city. I am fervently hoping for another candidate to make a late entry into the race, but I realize that might not happen. What we see may be what we get.

Toronto is a city of so much potential. It is vibrant and diverse and there are so many cultural activities. All the street festivals, sporting events, museums and restaurants make this city come alive. People from all corners of the world bring energy and excitement to T.O. That is why The Huffington Post recently dubbed Toronto “the new capital of cool.”

Yes, this city is a wonderful place to live, but it could be even better. For one thing, it could be cleaner. Job number one is to remove the litter from our streets and from the TTC. I take public transit frequently and I am sorry to say that our buses and subways are filthy. I also regret that our waterfront is hidden by a concrete jungle of ugly condos. We never should have let that happen. In 1987, Peter Ustinov described Toronto as “New York run by the Swiss.” I wonder if he would be able to make that same statement today.

The good denizens of Hogtown deserve better. We’ve gone through some terrible ordeals these past few years. In 2003, we had an outbreak of SARS and a massive power outage. Last summer, our city employees went on lengthy strike. Toronto resembled a pigpen and smelled like one too. Garbage was strewn everywhere and city services were closed down. This summer, we held a G20 summit we didn’t want or need. There was rioting and vandalism. The downtown core was fenced in. It was an armed camp with police everywhere. We learned what it felt like to be under martial law. To top it all off, taxpayers have to foot the bill for the over $1 billion in security costs for the summit.

We in the Big Smoke have survived all of this. Although we have thrived, we can have an even brighter future with better leadership. WANTED : A good mayor for the largest city in Canada. Time is running out. Where have you gone, David Crombie? An anxious city needs someone just like you.


Don’t get me going on Toronto’s sports teams. I’ll leave that for another day. Today I’ll just discuss the Jays ongoing road trip and the Argos’ season thus far.

After a promising start after the All-Star break, the Blue Jays have slipped back again. Their road trip began well with a sweep of the feckless Baltimore Orioles. Then they dropped two out of three games in Kansas City against the Royals. They began a new series in Detroit yesterday by losing to the Tigers by a score of 5-2.

I am a CFL fan. I follow it more than the NFL. The Argonauts are off to a decent start under head coach Jim Barker with a respectable record of 2-1. They have a home game today against the B.C. Lions. Both teams are owned by Senator David Braley. I can’t help thinking that Braley would certainly be in an awkward situation if the Lions were to play the Argos in the Grey Cup.

- Joanne

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