Toronto’s marathon Executive Committee meeting wrapped up this morning—a glimpse at the next 38 months?
If the nearly 24-hour ordeal that was the latest Executive Committee meeting produced anything to cheer, it was probably the performance art that was Mary Hynes’ “modest proposal,” embedded above. Aside from that, it’s hard to pinpoint anything that stood out in the wild process. Giorgio Mammoliti’s request that staff interrogate any deputants who claimed to be disabled, to make sure they weren’t faking? Ford Nation’s total absence from City Hall? For that matter, Mayor Rob Ford’s coy game, implying that so far no cuts have been recommended? The absurdity of City Hall in the last few months has become the new norm. Also new: the mayor and his allies will now have to pretend to have a mandate for service cuts when almost no one showed up to defend them.
For a full rundown of what happened at ExComm yesterday, we’d recommend the live-blog that Torontoist editor Hamutal Dotan managed to keep going during the long slog. Also, Dotan’s note summing up the exercise makes an important point: this is the longest council meeting on record precisely because this was also an unprecedented example of civic engagement at the city. (If nobody had shown up, this would have been a five-minute meeting.) The election of Rob Ford may herald a new era of cost-cutting and fiscal rectitude at city hall, but it also seems to be engaging his opposition in a way that this city hasn’t seen, at least since amalgamation. The obvious comparison is how Mike Harris radicalized a generation of young voters, such that the Liberals under Dalton McGuinty are still, in effect, running against Harris. (In fact, McGuinty mentioned Harris obliquely in an interview this very morning with CBC’s Metro Morning.)
Ford’s critics shouldn’t make the mistake of reading too much into the results. There were riots at Queen’s Park during Harris’s first term, but he won an easy re-election despite the chaos of his government. Never bet against incumbency in Canadian politics, and never assume that a vocal opposition will become a victorious one. Ford has had a bad week (as we’ve mentioned) but there’s no reason to believe that any of this will have an impact on votes in 2014. So settle in, Toronto—there’s a lot more like this coming.
• Torontonians at City Hall: Liveblogging the Executive Committee Budget Cut Meeting [Torontoist]
• One Day, and Night, at City Hall [Torontoist]
• Some modest proposals from Mary T. Hynes [OpenFile Toronto]