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2003 Municipal Election: Choosing the next mayor of Toronto


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Choosing the next mayor of Toronto

UPDATED AT 4:25 PM EST &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp Saturday, Nov. 1, 2003


The voters of Toronto have a tough decision to make. Great.

After years under a rudderless mayor, after a steady decline in the appearance and spirits of the city, Torontonians finally have a real choice for mayor in the Nov. 10 civic election. That choice is between John Tory and David Miller, both of whom have the potential to be excellent albeit different leaders.

The other three main candidates in the race are outclassed. Tom Jakobek, exposed as a desperate liar on a crucial ethical issue, shouldn't have run in the first place. John Nunziata is a loose cannon, not one to lead a city of three million. Barbara Hall, a likelier choice than those two, served an uninspired term as mayor in the mid-1990s and shows few signs of offering better this time round. She has a genuine concern for the city, and for the disadvantaged, but that's not enough, particularly at this point in Toronto's history.

Toronto needs inspired, energetic leadership and solid management to wrench it from its doldrums. It needs a mayor capable of getting its fiscal house in order and rescuing it from the ethical morass exemplified by the MFP computer-leasing scandal (which Mr. Miller did much to expose). It needs someone capable of steering the city through such major projects as the revitalization of the waterfront, while resisting the impulse to spend money Toronto doesn't have. It needs someone capable of explaining to senior governments the folly of siphoning off funds from the city. It needs someone with the finesse to make that pitch successfully at a time when both the federal and provincial governments face their own severe financial straits.

Mr. Tory and Mr. Miller are both smart, articulate individuals with impressive credentials. Mr. Miller has the edge on experience in elected politics, having been an active city councillor for many years. Mr. Tory has no record of elected office, though he was principal secretary in the early 1980s to then-premier Bill Davis. At the same time, Mr. Tory has the edge on proven managerial skills, having run Rogers Cable Inc. for several years as president and CEO. (He also raised a great deal of money for the city's disadvantaged as chair of the Toronto branch of the United Way.)

Neither candidate is perfect. Mr. Miller was all too breezy in his assurances that reversing the council's position on a link to the island airport wouldn't cost the city money, or, a minor example, that a new transit pass would pay for itself. Mr. Tory was entirely too accepting of the police union's decision to endorse him; he brushes aside the legal restrictions that rightly bar police officers from publicly supporting candidates.

That said, they both appear to be honest and ethical men. If Mr. Tory was unwise to lend his skills to the kitchen cabinet behind Mel Lastman, particularly during the second half of Mr. Lastman's six-year tenure as Toronto's mayor, there is no suggestion he was a part of anything untoward.

If this were a Lego set instead of a mayoral race, one could imagine constructing some hybrid of the two men. Mr. Miller could learn from Mr. Tory's managerial experience. Mr. Tory could learn from Mr. Miller's inclusive vision of a city in which, as Mr. Miller paraphrased former mayor David Crombie's advice to him, the private interests may fight for their private interests but the mayor stands up for the public interest. It is important to bring discipline to the city's management, but Toronto's future is not only in squeezing every department for savings; it is in rebuilding and reinvesting.

In both cases, it requires a leap of faith to imagine what Mr. Tory or Mr. Miller could make of the mayor's job, and the degree to which the job itself would bring out the best in them. Either candidate would be an excellent choice, but, placing ourselves in the position of the voter who must mark one X, we would choose Mr. Tory.

We would do so in recognition of his determination to get the city into sound financial shape, all the better to lay claim to assistance from the federal and provincial governments, and move forward on social and economic development agendas. And we would do so in the expectation that he would provide the Miller-style moral as well as the Tory-style managerial leadership the city needs, rising above the cronyism and ethical shortcuts that have distorted private and public interests in recent years.

© 2003 Bell Globemedia Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Hmm, does leadership at Rogers by Tory include negative billing and gouging of customers?

*Rogers took most of the decent channels off basic cable and made you pay extra to get them, on top of the cost of basic. In view of the decline in the quality of broadcasting, and TV's overall time-wasting effect, I decided it wasn't worth it and I cancelled cable altogether. Haven't regretted it.
*If Tory becomes mayor maybe he'll try a variation of the "negative billing" routine they tried at Rogers. One day I'll find garbage pick-up and policing taken off the "basic" list of services, though my property tax bill will be the same. And I'll get an additional bill for services that were once included...
The editorial sounds like The Globe and Mail just chose Tory only because he is the business candidate—not because he is a better candidate than Miller.

Tory, Tannebaum, Godfrey et al. gave us Lastman and his incompetance, fiscal irresponsiblity and their private agenda. Why reward these people by installing one of the backroom boys?
Wasn't Miller a councillor? What did he do for the city? I'm curious.