Today is Toronto’s long, long, too-long-awaited election day. Too long, in the sense that the city has had to put up waaaay too long with the Bozos Ford, and too long in the more mundane sense that this campaign has dragged and dragged until, finally, the whole damn thing has become an enormous drag.
The election is, inevitably, in part at least, a referendum on the polarising, aggrandizing and frankly embarrassing Fords. But there are other issues – no surprise there, other than the extent to which other issues, save perhaps transit, have been overshadowed by Toronto’s agonised attempts to wriggle free of the Fords’ sweaty, lewd, offensive embrace.
We know however that there is a hard-core of Ford supporters – maybe one in four of the GTA’s population. A good result would be one in which this core was pared down, a bad result, one in which support for the Fords – contra all evidence and reason – somehow managed to grow. Hopefully Ford loses, and loses big enough for the ‘referendum’ results to be clear. But this is unlikely. More likely, it seems, is that the core remains steadfast. While one may question their judgement, it would be wrong to assume that all of these ‘Ford-nation’ diehards are bigoted, ignorant, and intellectually blighted, as the Fords themselves undoubtedly are, and figuring out how to bring these people, who clearly are alienated from the rest of the city, into the city’s big tent, will be an important test for Toronto’s next mayor.
And there are bigger issues, also. The amalgamation of Toronto with the surrounding boroughs has been a major disaster, and that, coupled with the dysfunction of the city’s government (for which amalgamation is partly responsible) is enough to grey the hair of any politician. Yet the city needs to move forward: build a transit system worthy of a global metropolis, preserve its sense of civility and intimacy as it continues to absorb wave upon wave of migrants – and do a better job, too, of providing real opportunities for newcomers, who too often are left to struggle for the merest toehold in the economy. The list goes on – and yet, for all of its issues, Toronto, let us be honest, is a great city to live in, and I can think of many other cities around the world that would be happy to have Toronto’s problems.
The sun is shining, it is a gorgeous fall day, and Rob, like hundreds of other committed citizens, is out there canvassing and getting out the vote. It is a day for practicing one’s faith in democracy.