Good Morning Mister Mayor

October 24, 2010 at 9:16 pm (Uncategorized)

I’ve been trying to avoid election fever. No, no not the U.S. mid-term elections (although some of the comic gaffes are worth a chuckle), no I mean the Canadian municipal elections.

Yesterday, the phone rang and my son answered the phone. “Dad, it’s Slytheran” he said. While it’s true we have been reading the first Harry Potter book together, the re-imagining of Toronto mayoralty candidate George Smitherman as a member of the evil house of Hogwarts doesn’t seen too too inaccurate. Unfortunately, there’s more than a few that should be there.

A friend of mine recently posted about the importance of municipal election in reference to the then upcoming election in Calgary. Sorry G, got to disagree with you.

As that old ’68 grafitti has it, “It’s painful to submit to our bosses,; it’s even stupider to choose them.” (If that pithy maxim doesn’t convince you, there are plenty of good critiques against voting, but the bottom line is the despite the rhetoric, there is very little real difference between any of the candidates, and second they are all for the maintenance of a rotten system)

I have to admit though the thought of Rob Ford as the new Toronto mayor does fill me with despair. I’ll avoid the obvious cheap shot about Ford, but I can’t shake the feeling that Toronto is about to elect Chris Farley’s somewhat less funny brother. (Apparently a few others are not so thrilled either – a few weeks back University Avenue was littered with signs that proclaimed “Wife Beating Racist Drunk for Mayor”  a direct reference to some of Ford’s past indiscretions.

Nevertheless, Ford’s mantra of cutting waste seems to have caught on, to the extent that the other candidates, with the exception of Joe Pantelone, more or less adopted Ford’s platform arguing that they could do it better. It seems odd to me though, that Toronto has been so badly served by governments at the Federal and provincial levels arguing the same line as Ford that they would consider electing someone at the municipal level.

That said, I’m filled with despair by the other choices too. George Smitherman is a provincial cabinet minster (When I spell-checked this piece,  “monster” was suggested – maybe I should have left it?) perhaps best known for presiding over the e-health debacle. If he’s elected, it will be because people saw no other choice in opposition to Ford. Joe Pantelone, a somewhat bland former deputy mayor seems not to want to go beyond the legacy of  former golden boy David Miller. (aside from perhaps regretting the vehicle tax) . The other candidates Sarah Thompson and Rocco Rossi have laready fallen on their respective swords.

It’s my son’s 7th birthday on election day, and a new mayor from these candidates doesn’t seem like much of a gift.


Anyway, have a chuckle at this piece from Saturday’s Globe and Mail.

Are you there, candidates? It’s me, Mark


To my favourite mayoral candidates:

Can you believe it’s already been a year? It feels like it’s been ten. And Monday – poof! – it all comes to an end. The press releases, debates, policy announcements and backpedalling are pretty much behind us now. At long last, it’s time to say farewell.

To my darling Sarah,

On paper you stank. You polled the lowest and you were the first to bow out. But you did something none of the other candidates managed to do: You walked away with dignity.

A year ago, no one had ever heard of Sarah Thomson. Now, everyone knows what you look like. Thanks to you, Torontonians learned to dream about subways again. For two weeks, at least.

But you know what I admire the most? Everyone bought the hardnosed businesswoman thing. People would say, “She ran the Women’s Post!” like it was something other than a niche/vanity publication that makes Chatelaine look like The Economist. Word on the street is that the Liberals and Conservatives are begging you to run. Federally! I’d take that over being mayor. My guess is the other four would, too. Well played, madam.


To little Joe with the big heart,

Do politicians have these enormous thermometers that they use to “take the temperature of the electorate” as they say? Because if they do, yours is broken.

What else could have given you the idea that this year, of all years, was the year to run as the union guy? Even your hero, David Miller, was smart enough to keep the union stuff hush-hush. He was coming in on the heels of the Lastman years – arguably the most right wing, corrupt, and asinine era in this city’s political history – and Miller still knew better than to mention the union stuff in public.

You are that rarest of animals, Joe – a politician who says what he believes. The voters may not like you – the unions are backing Smitherman. But a year from now, you’ll be sitting on the patio at The Dip and a municipal worker will walk by and give you a friendly nod. You won’t be mayor, but you’ll be able to live with yourself. Unless Ford squeaks out a win, of course, in which case that municipal employee will be out of a job.



Whoa. Rough landing, partner. You really put the “pain” in “campaign.”

I just have one question: What happened? Actually, don’t answer that. I think I know what happened. I think you got really, really, really, really bad advice. Because there you were at the beginning of the campaign being all sensible and sober, and no one was listening. And then suddenly you went insane. Let’s dig a tunnel under midtown! Let’s recall the mayor after two years! Who told you to do that? Who thought the “Bocce Balls” ads were a good idea? Who thought referencing a candidates genitalia was a winning strategy? Seriously, who?


Furious, curious, worrious, slurrious, injurious George,

Um…what did Dalton ever see in you? Is it your penmanship? Are you the life of the party on campaign road trips?

Because I don’t really see what you bring to the table, you know, politically speaking. I’ve been sitting here trying to come up with one thing you did well during this campaign and I got bupkis.

Did you know that roughly 90 per cent of your sentences do not have predicates? Did you know that every time you float a new idea, it sounds like you heard about it for the first time that morning, and you didn’t even let the person explaining it to you finish? You answer questions the way intoxicated people drive cars. You go too fast, then you veer, then you have trouble coming to a stop. Someone is going to get hurt.


My dear, dear Rob:

My name is Mark Schatzker and I am a Downtown Elite. I live in a renovated home in a gentrifying ethnic neighbourhood and more than half my friends work in “the arts.” I collect wine and I eat charcuterie (don’t ask). When I ride my bike, I give drivers the finger. I have, in the past, grown ironic facial hair.

But here’s the thing, Rob: I don’t hate you. The more I get to know you, in fact, the more I like you. And the reason is your gaffes. They’re endearing. That joint they found in your back pocket when you got that DUI in Florida? It tells me you know more about alternative lifestyles than most of my fellow elites believe. Trying to buy drugs for that gay junkie stalker guy? It was, in its own confused but well-meaning way, an acknowledgment of diversity. Some constituents need a bigger blue bin. This guy needed some Hillbilly H. You were there for him.

I love your whole football thing. You coach because you love the game and you love the kids that play it. I agree with you about the spend-happy bureaucrats at city hall. And I’m still pissed off about the sick bank.

But I also think this: You would make a terrible mayor.


All in all, candidates, I think this was the worst in campaign in memory, and likely the worst ever. Which is good news, because from here, it can only get better.

See you in four years.



  1. gmacmedia said,

    Chris Farley’s less funny brother – I like it! I get the sense Ford is going down, but I hear Smitherman is perhaps worse. Too bad, for such a great city. My prediction from afar: Smitherman wins by a slither, man.(actually I think Ford fails big in the voting).

    • fischerzed said,

      Well well. Well indeed.

      My first thought was, “O Brave new world that has such people in it.”

      Of course on reflection, it’s probably, “What fresh hell is this?”

      But maybe, I should go with Peggy Lee and ask, “Is that all there is to an election?”

      Still, if I were a (real) comedian, I’d be rubbing my hands at the prospect of comic possibilities.

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