Monday, August 26, 2013
Decision to appoint Doug Holyday's replacement an insult to voters
The decision to fill Etobicoke-Lakeshore MPP Doug Holyday’s vacant council seat through a byelection wasn’t the right thing to do. It was the only thing to do.
Still, for 22 timorous councillors at City Hall, the fact that Rob Ford supported the vote over the nominal appointment option sealed the deal.
So the recalcitrant will start the patronage machine and appoint somebody instead. It’s not recorded whether or not they poked their tongues out as they did it, but that’s the message they sent to voters when they moved to keep democracy in-house and out of the public domain.
Now the residents of Etobicoke Centre (Ward 3) have no chance to choose a representative.
Just why it took half a day of earnest chin wagging on the floor of City Hall to come to this illogical conclusion is extraordinary.
This council term ends on Nov. 30, 2014, so the traditionally accepted notion for a byelection was met.
Previous councils found nothing wrong with these requirements and a memorandum to councillors by city clerk Ulli Watkiss made this crystal clear.
The only reason this pattern has now been broken is because so many councillors flatter to deceive; they fear the extraordinary appeal of Rob Ford amongst voters.
They’re scared that he actually gets out there and knows how to campaign. Not only that, Rob Ford is clearly liked by plenty of voters.
That doesn’t fit with the self-serving narrative of so many at City Hall who would cast the mayor as a freak of nature, a man presented with the chains of office only because so many voters were just not paying attention the day they cast their ballot.
Nothing illustrates the degradation of our political culture better than the Toronto councillors who believe that Etobicoke voters cannot be trusted to make a choice of their own.
Those who backed the appointment process are simply reconfirming in the public mind that the political class exists only to look after itself.
Don’t believe me? Remember this.
The Etobicoke York community council will have a special meeting on Oct. 3 to recommend a preferred candidate to replace Holyday. Then council will have a special council meeting on Oct. 10 to make the final decision on appointing a candidate.
There is no guarantee that the community council recommendation will even be taken on board. There could be councillors who decide that they would rather do a deal behind closed doors and install a candidate all their own.
The appearance of Tammany Hall-style deal making and back scratching should have no place in modern government. A council seat should be won through the hard work of canvassing voters and meeting them on their doorstep.
This is something Rob Ford knows and does well. It’s why he is the antithesis of so many of his colleagues who prefer patronage to hard work.
Too often modern government at all levels is seen as an exclusive and elitist club. It encourages political elites to trade simplistic, cut-and-dried solutions to problems as the currency of electoral politics.
Now that has been confirmed and Toronto is the lesser for it.
“They don’t give two hoots about the residents of Ward 3” is how Councillor Doug Ford summed up the decision.
It’s hard to argue with that.
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