Our Loss, Not His

The problem when you commit to “politics in full sentences” is you find out how many people don’t read. David Soknacki’s campaign was best known for well thought out, detailed and bold policy ideas, usually on important issues most candidates failed to address. In other words you can see what went wrong.

As Torontoist so well details, David ended his campaign for Mayor yesterday. The writing was on the wall, and unlike the incumbent David can most certainly read. He ended with thanks to volunteers and staff at an event that on a personal note I’m profoundly disappointed I had to miss. I’d have liked to thank him face to face last night for the opportunity to volunteer for him, and for the campaign he ran.

He was someone who saw campaigning as an opportunity to have a conversation with voters which amounted to more than a sales pitch. He would have made an excellent teacher. When talking about open data, the police budget, or even less complex ideas like “taxes pay for things” he clearly enjoyed speaking to people, but also the opportunity to educate them. He sought to reach an understanding with people in order earn their support. An aspiration sorely missing in most campaigns.

The complex nature of David’s platform was likely a factor in his failure to gain momentum. Sound bites and slogans make for bad policy like McDonalds makes bad burgers, but with both people still eat them up. Unlike his platform, David’s biggest obstacle was easy to understand, it was fear. Voters so afraid Ford might win, stayed away from a candidate who’s ideas they liked but who’s chances they doubted.

I refuse to see his decision to quit as a loss for David. It is a loss for Toronto. We lost the candidate in this race presenting us with detailed, innovative ideas, and we did so because we were afraid. More importantly, we lost our last chance at a campaign that was about ideas at all.

We chose to give in to fear, and in doing so have reaffirmed this race is about Ford. The chance we had to recognize we deserve more than a referendum on the personal and professional failings of one man, is gone. We deserved an adult conversation about a vision for our city. Now the candidate often described as the “only adult in the room”, has left it.

In terms of the mayoral race I will likely sit the rest of this one out. I will vote of course, though I’m not sure for whom yet. Other than that I will let the race run its course, and celebrate with the rest of Toronto when Rob Ford takes the electoral beating he so richly deserves.

What I will not do though is give up on the belief our city can embrace a candidate like David. One who offers a bold and intelligent platform to voters, and who knows you should need more than a bumper sticker’s worth of paper to write it on. My reasons are far from altruistic.

My wife is due with our first child the day before the election in Toronto. I will not allow my child to grow up in a city where any candidate is deemed to smart to connect, their ideas to bold to work, or worst of all where an electorate is made too afraid to elect them.

And I’m not moving either.

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