Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The race for mayor in Toronto

Municipal politics in this country is typically boring. Not this year in Toronto! The campaigning seems interminably long compared to what happens at the provincial or federal level. At those upper levels, campaigns have been legislated down to just 4 weeks or so. This way the incumbent party can't screw-up too badly and they may be able to finagle another victory.
Not in municipal politics, the Toronto campaign has been in going full-bore (no pun intended) at least three months now and there is still a month to go. In this particular year that is the best thing about it.
One unlikely candidate, Councillor Rob Ford, has emerged with a substantial lead if polls can be believed. He has almost twice the percentage in favour as his closest opponent. Even I like him, sort of.
Toronto has the reputation of voting federally for union-friendly statist politicians. Liberals or New Democrats get elected throughout most Toronto ridings. Even the last mayor and council were big government types and of course their big spending ways have created a huge debt problem for the city during a bad economic downturn.
The current Mayor Miller is known for "negotiating" juicy contracts with unions (like garbage workers), adding all sorts of annoying surcharges for the privilege living in the city and slapping red-tape on anything that looks like progress. Wisely, Miller has decided not to run again because the pendulum is swinging the other way.
The new mantra is responsible government, ('cause they have been irresponsible up until now) even so some candidates insist union jobs should be saved, tunnels should be built for cars to travel unimpeded, transit should be improved and every pot should have a chicken in it.
Ford has a better idea. He is the only one suggesting that cuts need to be made in the size of government. He's still a big government guy (and he's big too) a union-unfriendly statist politician, so I'm not that excited. But the length of the campaign has focused those voters who are paying attention on costs and size of government. That may be why Ford is popular, but it's early days yet.        

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