Rocco Rossi scares me.
It is not his height, or his shiny bald head. He scares me because he might win.
His platform, revealed in a speech(pdf) to the Empire Club last Thursday, is simple: “three priorities…fixing the city’s books…getting Toronto moving again…and attracting new economic growth.”
But to do that, according to Rossi, means selling off assets, destroying unions, and putting a moratorium on transit construction despite a huge gap between infrastructure and need. Oh yeah, and he wants to run cyclists off the road.
These are the policies of a man who doesn’t want to make Toronto better, but instead wants to win an election by playing the opposites game: If you give me the power I promise I will do the exact opposite of the guy who came before me.
It is what Stephen Harper did. It is what Mike Harris did. Hell, it is even what Obama did.
“When career politicians tell you not to vote for me, what they’re really saying is politics should be left in the hands of career politicians.”
Rossi’s speech was packed full with things like this – it doesn’t tell you why Rossi would be a great mayor, it merely glosses over the fact that he is inexperienced while at the same time separates him from the group currently running Toronto. If you hate City Hall, then this “argument” will probably reach you. But is has no substance. It isn’t based on thought, issues, or good planning. It is the argument of a man who wants to skate by on people’s anger and uncertainty.
Historically speaking, selling off assets has not made sense in the long term (407, anyone?), and battling gridlock by encouraging cars and discouraging other modes of transportation does not work. But despite Rossi’s flawed logic and promises he likely can’t keep, I think he still has a chance.
I’ve said it before: I like David Miller. Or at the very least, I respect him. Sure, he messed some things up, but David Miller’s ideas represented a Toronto that I wanted to live in.
Toronto is flawed right now, but it has the potential to be better. I don’t want to sit around and watch it hit rock bottom through a series of opposite-men before anyone realizes that a city is more than the roads people drive on.
Sometimes policies that are for the greater good and not just the bottom line take some getting used to. Sometimes the people in charge don’t get it right the first time. But simply tossing away any progress that has been made because it didn’t work perfectly is not a solution. It is also a good way to waste a bunch of money.
Many Torontonians are angry about garbage strikes and the state of the TTC. Others are mad because they think they have the right to the entire road. Some just like to complain.
But the idea what people will vote based on a knee-jerk reaction to David Miller sickens me. It is a pathetic way to go through life – not making decisions based on actual facts or thoughts but instead based on an odd combination of cynicism and apathy. If you don’t care, don’t vote. But don’t show up and vote uninformed, because I know you’ll still complain when it is all done.
If the role of government isn’t to make a place better, then what’s the point?
I am clinging to the idea that despite voting patterns in surrounding areas, Toronto is a relatively left-leaning city. But if Toronto goes in the direction of our Federal government, I will seriously have to question if it is the kind of city I want to live in.