Dear City of Toronto:
This isn't a letter regarding my long standing hatred of a certain automaker, but about our municipal elections. I know you're angry, I'm angry too. I'm a card carrying member of the NDP and I'm angry, that oughta tell you something!
I live in Scarberia, I drive a car, pay taxes...more than you'd think for someone who lives in Scarberia! Go about my life and am not the major political mover and shaker I thought I was shaping up to be pre-kids. So essentially, outside of my city councillor, like many people who live outside the downtown core, I've been ignored for the past 8 years or so by the city. I understand how you are pissed, I am too.
I might believe in a strong social fabric, that doesn't include the insane spending that has happened in our city hall for the past 8 years. I don't agree with letting unions strike only to give them more. I don't agree with cutting or freezing your staff's wages, only to give yourself a raise, even if it is a pittance. I don't mind paying taxes, if there is something to show for it. But with pool closures, strikes, Toronto Community Housing falling apart, increasing pest problems-bedbugs anyone? Ewwwww! Decreasing services, strangling dogvine, TTC in trouble, roads a mess, every freaking east west route I take in Scarberia under some sort of construction or another for some stupid reason. And I have to even admit, I'm feeling a might bit snippy at having to apply for a permit every time I want to do something to my property, or having it against the law to park three cars in my driveway. It's MINE!!!!
Like seriously, the city is messed up. Yes, the current city council can blame amalgamation and the province all it wants, but they've had 8 years to make improvements, and in my view it hasn't gotten much better. So it's easy to see why my knee jerk reaction would be to punish everyone and choose Rob Ford who is the extreme opposite. After all, we've fared so crappily with all this spending, lets claw back a hundred dollars here or there and hope for the best.
One of the most valuable pieces of parenting advice I've ever received was from a friend sharing what she learned from someone much wiser than I. She was pregnant at the time and talking about the parenting she grew up with, and how she was advised that being the polar opposite of her parents would like be just as damaging and that she shouldn't base her parenting on the opposite of what she saw as negative. Now whether she's followed that advice completely or partially, she's an excellent mom and I'd like to think I'm a bit of a better mom because of that shared piece of wisdom. What this has to do with the election is simple, we cannot base our decision on extremes.
Yes we need to weed the garden, and there is a heck of a lot of dog strangling vine in it, but we can't napalm it. I'd love to pay less property taxes and I certainly wouldn't cry over some user fees being reduced, or some bylaws being axed, but I'm not voting for Ford. I can't seriously believe he's an option for people. He's supposed to be representing our city. He's been arrested for a DUI. He gets in fights at home badly enough to warrant the police. He gets in drunken fights at hockey games. He can't get along with people, he has an issue with gays and immigrants...umm HELLO??? TORONTO? Is this someone we want representing our beautiful diverse city?
So who to vote for if not Ford? I don't know, really, I don't. I'm not all that fond of Smitherman, he doesn't seem much different than Ford, but he seems to know how to rein himself in if he wants to. Pantelone is a good option for my bleeding heart ways, except I'm freaking terrified of the status quo being upheld for another term. That and the fact that the race is really between Ford and Smitherman.
I guess the only thing I can ask of you Toronto is in this last week leading up to the election, take a collective breath, have a good kvetch session with your friends about everything-and don't hold back- that has pissed you off about this city for the past 8 years. Get it out of your system. Then sit down, do your homework and vote for the platform that makes you the most comfortable. Just don't, please for the love of Mike, make this decision based on a desire to wring Miller's neck. Instead of anger, do what you think will be best for our city, and pray that by next election time, we'll have a candidate that we can really be excited about.