Tuesday, November 27, 2007


OK the food carts are one thing. But there is a lot more!

Toronto is in the midst of another year with a comparatively high murder rate, and it's got the mayor (David Miller) babbling again. He appears too frequently on my TV screen demanding, as he usually does in dodging any responsibility for conditions in the city, that the United States stop exporting guns to Canada.

I cannot figure out what he means by this. When I leave Canada, no Canadian officials inspect what I am carrying - in fact I can drive through border crossings and not be inspected by any official of the country I am departing. I find when I drive back into Canada that no US official bothers with me. So who is letting the guns into Canada? Perhaps he should demand that Canada stop importing guns!

This rhetorical device is an old one for Miller - shift any possible responsibility elsewhere! Shifting it to the US is much more effective in Toronto than addressing the complications of stopping the traffic in guns. Once long ago Miller promised to solve the gun killing problem with community programs, but that topic has vanished, likely with his total mismanagement of the city budget.

Miller was even more shameless on the night of his re-election:

As Andrew Coyne wrote last year:

No sooner had David Miller been re-elected mayor of Toronto last month than he began to beg for money: publicly, openly, unashamedly. During the campaign, the mayor had been the fount of munificence, for all the world as if the promises he was making were to be funded out of his own personal wealth.

But now the election was over; time for the begging to start. “Tonight,” he told his electors, “you have given me a strong mandate to tell the Premier and the Prime Minister that Toronto deserves a one-cent share of sales tax revenue, and we will not take ‘No’ for an answer.” It’s not clear why the mayor needed a “mandate” to do this, but what comes through loud and clear is the sense of entitlement: Toronto deserves, not taking ‘no’ for an answer etc.

Somehow in his own mind the mayor had transformed what in most contexts is considered shameful, even craven behaviour -- begging -- into a point of pride, an assertion of the city’s self-worth. He was not asking for money, out of charity, you understand: he was demanding it, as of right. He wasn’t doing so on his account, but because Torontonians had given him a mandate. And it wasn’t for him, to bail him out of the cost of his own promises. It was for “Toronto.”

I don’t mean to single out the mayor. His own evident shamelessness on this score only reflects the larger culture in which he is immersed.

So Miller's budget problems are really someone else's fault. As ever - he is never accountable for anything.

I was surprised to realize how old a story this is - here is Royson James in 2004:

Ah, now we get it. Waterfront czar Robert Fung is to blame for the stalled waterfront revitalization. Replace the investment banker with Mayor David Miller and our waterfront problems are over.

That's the tale Miller spun at a news conference Wednesday, unveiling the city's take on what "governance structure" is needed to fix the lakefront blight. Asked what he would have accomplished in the past year, had he, and not Fung, been chair of the Toronto Waterfront Revitalization Corporation, he said:

"We would have seen significantly more progress on a number of initiatives. ... And we would have seen shovels in the ground."

In the end Miller is right - somebody else is to blame - us voters in Toronto. I will try to absolve myself slightly - I did not vote for him twice.



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