Saturday, August 16, 2014



Went to the opening of the Ex the other morning. Speaking as someone who has run a few of those when I was CNE president, it went off well, except there were too many damn politicians who just had to be mentioned from the podium.
Of course the Ex, which is now independent of City Hall which charges us an enormous rent, wants to stay on the good side of just about everyone elected to a post higher than dogcatcher.
So Brian Ashton, the current president who retired as a very good councillor, made sure that every last politician within a kilometre of the place got a name nod. And then deputy mayor Norm Kelly introduced all the city councillors for the second time even though they richly deserve to be anonymous. Mark Grimes got several mentions because he's also head of Exhibition Place, the landlord that overcharges the fair for everything.
In fact, so many politicians had to be mentioned there was no time to introduce by name the group of fair directors like me even though we actually run the Ex and earn the free admission that all the politicians of the GTA expect as their due for doing nothing.
Then Ashton introduced sponsors (by name) and consuls (by name) and I saw Ex-goers who actually had paid to get in start to wander off despite nice bits like a youth choir from Haiti and actor R.H. Thompson with thoughtful words about the Great War.
There was plenty of opportunity as a national fair acted like a village one to think of  municipal election day even if it is still a couple of months away. The end of a tedious marathon. I did wonder what the opening of the Ex had to do with the mayoral election.
After all, on the stage was Rob Ford who boomed out a mediocre speech. At least he was invited this time. In recent years he's gatecrashed the stage.
In the front row was John Tory who I first met when he was a kid radio reporter working his way through Osgoode thanks to the family friendship with Ted Rogers. (He admits he routinely asked me for advice on municipal politics.)  He went on, of course, to greater things, a good political and business career. He's obviously the best candidate for mayor even if he was once president of that flawed cable company, Rogers. Even though I debated with him on his CFRB show as he roasted everything about the Ex.
Olivia Chow was floating around with a couple of campaign ladies buzzing like bees around the queen. Not to be outdone, Karen Stintz  came back to the reception clutching a stuffed animal she won on the midway.
 I surveyed this quartet of candidates and thought that since they were already boring in January, just how much more is going to be inflicted on us. Why have our election campaigns turned into a political version of the ordeal of Job  Why are Chow and Tory even introduced since they hold no elected office.
All their faces and quotes and policies have become so used in this process that they resemble the picked-over merchandise of a second-hand store.
What has the ordeal produced so far? Not much!
All that has happened is that Model T Ford has continued to be an international punch line for crack stupidity.
 So many transit plans have been brandished that it would take an eternity and Google to keep track.
One wonders that if the incumbent was not so flawed and so bumbling whether Chow and Stintz would even be running. After all they could use royal jelly as makeup and the obvious fact remains that they're mundane politicians. It does helps them a tad that they're women from the central city, perceived by activists and gLiberal commentators as the ideal antidote to a tight-fisted moron from the suburbs.
They really are puny candidates when you consider some of the masters in PR, manipulation, malapropism and longevity who have been dominant mayors since the city began. I've been acquainted with or covered every mayor for 50 years and by comparison to Lampy or Supermouth or the Tiny Perfect or Eggs, Stintz and Chow are like failed candidates for the school board.
The shame is that too many of us are tired already of watching them run in circles, dancing to the dictates of the 24-hour news cycle. I have covered, or have supervised the coverage of, dozens of elections at all levels, and I wouldn't cross the street to watch these guys in debate.
Seems a shame if we elect the candidate who bores us least. The way things have gone, there is no stunt that the Fords now could pull that would hurt or help him, and the others have been pouring their policy over our heads for so long, we wouldn't recognize a really good new idea unless it came with a guarantee to help everyone and hurt no one.
I know one really good new idea, that the next council make it illegal for anyone to campaign or raise election funds more than two months before the election day. Starting in January is silly!
With the communications we have today, with the huge growth in media, there is no need for a long campaign. Your message and your platform can be spread in days unless you're incompetent
It is silly to waste a spring and summer listening to politicians. We need a holiday from that mediocre clutch and the special interest groups that boss them around.
This present garbled mess just helps incumbents and insiders and turns the rest of us off. It's the reason the job and campaigning have become so time consuming. It's designed to make really bright lively people think that it's better to stay in the real world where of course many ordinary people can't slip away from a job in order to be introduced from a stage at 10 a.m. on a Friday and be applauded by all the other politicians.
I didn't clap!

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