You Get What You Need

Between changing more diapers and falling deeper in love than I’d have thought possible, I’ve struggled to put in to words my thoughts on Toronto’s election since the ballots were counted. Sleep deprivation is likely an accomplice to my inability to write an adequate epilogue but hardly the ringleader. More likely the feeling of having been denied something is responsible. Like an average meal at an excellent restaurant my political appetite feels less than satiated.

I struggled with how to put those feelings to page until I realized as usual someone else has done it better. I’d like to thank Mick Jagger and friends for the reminder you can’t always get what you want.

I’ve spent a great deal of time in the last year talking about Toronto politics.  Those of you kind enough to follow along, know my feelings on the brothers Ford. It should surprise no one I found myself in the “anyone but Ford” camp after my preferred candidate’s departure from the race.

I don’t know John Tory personally, but people I trust do. Regardless of any areas we may disagree on I have no doubt he is an honourable man, one to whom civic service means a great deal. Someone who will show the office and the residents it serves the respect so often mentioned, yet so often lacking these last four years. I was relieved when Toronto elected him as our new Mayor, and would have been equally relieved had Olivia Chow won.

The problem being when it comes to an election relief is a poor substitute for elation. I’m relieved Doug lost but I wanted him to lose badly.  I wanted the corrosive brand of politics he and Rob share to be so soundly rejected Ford Nation would be like Atlantis. The stuff of mythology only some believe actually existed.

Thanks to a surprising number of the angry and easily duped that didn’t happen. Of course neither did Mayor Doug Ford.

I wanted a different election, many people did. We wanted one where bold ideas were given the stage to be seen, heard, and debated. Candidates like David Soknacki, Ari Goldkind, and Morgan Baskin did their best to draw the spotlight but to little avail. What oxygen the Fords didn’t suck from the room, these candidates used to breathe life in to the level of debate. They deserved a better result for doing so, but our thanks will have to suffice.

At the council level the most disappointing result may be the victories of both Giorgio Mammoliti and Rob Ford. There were several good people whose election could have shown the power of incumbency is not absolute or stronger than the stench of corruption. Instead, voters chose the familiar and should expect familiar neglect from both as a result. If their toxic presence is now removed by the law and not the ballot we will have to find solace in the results, if not the means.

There were other results I hoped for from this election. I wanted parents to be outraged Michael Ford would feel entitled to speak for their child’s education, without ever speaking to them. That didn’t happen, but another trustee only interested in teaching bigotry was defeated. If there was only enough outrage for that, so be it.

There was a lot I wanted from this election I didn’t get.  What Toronto did get is a chance to have the business of City Hall actually focused again on city business. That may not be everything people wanted from this campaign, but it is a crucial first step in walking away from the last four years of chaotic obstruction and disgrace.

All over the city for all manner of campaigns, people put in inspiring efforts to build the city they wanted. That the end results were less than ideal does not make those efforts in vain. As the rest of the song goes, if you try sometimes, you get what you need.

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