What city politics need: more God

What city politics need: more God

A tree of unspecified faith sits in front of city hall (Image: Jim Crocker) 

If the mayoral race has proven anything so far, it’s that when the candidates stop talking about the TTC or bike lanes, things get awkward. First it was Giambrone’s fall from grace, then the encounter between Rob Ford and a gay couple, and then yesterday’s debate on religion, ethics and public service. The event featured only four of the candidates—Rossi, Ford, Smitherman and Pantalone—all of whom were warned by the moderator that things could get “scary.” But surely nothing too bad could go wrong, right?

Four of Toronto’s mayoral candidates have vowed to give faith-based groups a bigger role in city affairs, with Rocco Rossi proclaiming, “God hasn’t left city hall—city hall has left God.”…

Rossi made the quip about city hall leaving God when one of the roughly 100 people in the audience at Metropolitan United Church, while asking candidates if they would support an official interfaith day or week, remarked that “it seems as if God has left city hall.”

In that excerpt from the Star, Rossi is clearly responding to a questioner and hoping for a good sound bite. Nevertheless, his campaign is in full reverse as it assures the public that the candidate believes in the separation of church and state. George Smitherman followed up by saying the city was mature enough to deal with religious differences openly, and that we should go back to calling the holiday tree a Christmas tree. Pantalone said he would have “one and [a] half to two people devoted to social media, social engagement” with faith-based communities. Ford indicated that, as far as initiatives are concerned, he could call up family friend Finance Minister Jim Flaherty and say, “Jim, I might need a couple of bucks to help out a certain organization.”

With this level of noncommittal political correctness, only one question remains: Could you guys go back to arguing about Transit City?

• ‘City hall has left God,’ Rossi declares [Toronto Star]
• Rossi clarifies ‘City Hall has left God’ comment [National Post]
• Mayoral Candidates Gather to Talk Around God [Torontoist]