Monday, April 30, 2012



I realize the Toronto Star likes nothing better than to run a commentary bitch-slapping the mayor but the latest nonsense from Richard Florida just drips with the Florida/Star hatred.
The headline read: "How Ford's Pride snub hurts our city." A highlighted paragraph read: "It's time for the business community to step up and tell the mayor to stop damaging Toronto's reputation."
C'mon guys! The real world really doesn't care whether a politician supports or ignores homosexuals, just as long as he doesn't throw them in jail or target them with discriminatory laws or preaches against them. Not marching in a parade filled with flamboyant pornography isn't that big a deal.
Florida has a huge rep as a "rock star economist," author and deep thinker about urban issues, although I doubt the ordinary folk care whether he speaks or farts. He's director of the Martin Prosperity Institute at the University of Toronto's Rotman School of Management.
I have nothing against that school - my sons John Henry and Mark have Rotman MBAs - but it would be nice before such profs run off at the mouth that they consider whether they could defend their comments as if they were in a doctoral thesis.
For example, Florida writes that this slap in the face to Toronto's gays "is also a direct blow to Toronto's hard-fought reputation as one of the most open, tolerant, diverse and inclusive cities on the planet."
Oh really?
I suppose it's nice that "big thinkers" come here to settle and teach and lecture us, but it would also be nice if they didn't regurgitate statement about this great city which are almost impossible to prove and spent more time on research into whether their sweeping statements are fact or fiction.
I am reminded of another transplanted American, Jane Jacobs, who was worshipped by the left and urban activists although the planning that she advocated would produce exactly the kind of street that most of us would not want to live on.
One of the strange things about Toronto is how vulnerable our leaders are to repeating myths. For example, Mel Lastman when he was mayor of North York used to boast that it was the third-largest city in the country when it wasn't.
Lastman, David Miller and others routinely talked about how Toronto is the most multi-cultural city in the world. Oh really? The world now boasts a Milky Way of cities and to pretend that any international organization has done a competent analysis of most of them is just plain silly. Organizations like the UN and WHO are so busy kowtowing to dictators and mouthy minorities that their stats must be taken with several tonnes of salt.
In the "most multi-cultural city in the world," an annual multi-cultural celebration called Caravan was started by a friend of mine, Leon Kossar, in the 1960s. At one point, 54 pavilions, each bearing the name of a foreign capital, showed off the food, culture and entertainment of their country. It was a huge success. For years I was one of the judges of the best pavilion. Caravan ran out of steam and then died a decade ago. I'm sure the Gay Pride parade years from now will be just another Santa Claus or St. Patrick's or Orange parade...if it lasts.
Florida's basic argument, when you render out the BS, is that when big cities are doing everything they can to become more competitive,  the mayor's "intolerance is damaging both the city's reputation for fairness and its business climate."
Florida considers the mayor's ignoring the Gay Pride Parade as one of those poor decisions that have a significant negative effect on city economies that can last long into the future. Yes, but it's more representative of the views of most Torontonians than Florida's. Dare I raise the ideal of democracy! One poll indicated that 29% says it's up to Ford whether he participates and 25% said he shouldn't attend. I think a poll with a larger sampling would show that most people are indifferent to this issue since at least 85% are not homosexual, and the hot issue of discrimination by City Hall cooled off years ago.
I would argue that Rob Ford's approach to taxes would be of more interest and have more impact on foreign observers than his approach to a propaganda parade. But Florida thinks a thriving gay community signals a community open to all kinds and ideas and that it will stimulate involvement from everyone from eggheads to eccentrics to entrepreneurs.
Well, it got him here. It's up to you to decide which he is. And our thriving gay community is not going to wither because of Ford.
Doesn't anyone at the Star edit this guff? Or are the editors just so grateful that someone shares their view that Ford is evil and the paper must do all things possible to stop the mayor from gaining in the polls that they will run this tortured hyperbole that the mayor's slight is as important as the tax and  unemployment rates and the cost of office space for those who dare to contemplate work in a downtown that has been warped by "experts" like Florida.

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