The spectacle at city hall has become a common obsession, even among people who never before cared much about municipal politics. It’s part comedy, party tragedy, and overall the weirdest show in town. The carnival-like atmosphere reached its apex when Rob Ford jumped on a giant scale and turned his weight problem into a public exhibit. David Miller, for better or for worse, was at least sensible enough to drop his extra pounds before discussing it with the world. In our cover story this month (“The Incredible Shrinking Mayor”), the writer, Marci McDonald, makes the case that beneath all the Ford family buffoonery is something quite dark. And also sad. The portrait that emerges from her sweeping narrative is of a man who would rather be coaching football than running the city. In fact, he’s a failed football player and reluctant mayor, much like George W. Bush was a reluctant president who really wanted to be baseball commissioner. And it’s no fun to watch someone ill-suited to his job struggle on a daily basis, particularly when the stakes are so high.
If you closely follow the day-to-day skirmishes at city hall—over subways, the waterfront, bike lanes, labour unrest—you might start believing that Toronto is hopelessly debilitated, which just isn’t the case. This is, I believe, a great moment for Toronto. The city is more energetic, creative and prosperous today than maybe ever before. In a recent issue of Toronto Life, we ran a profile of the city councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam, who said something that stuck with me: “Right now city hall is completely out of touch with the urbanism and energy that I feel in our neighbourhoods. We’re in a period of cultural renaissance and transformation.”
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