Toronto’s five best and worst political moments of 2010

Toronto’s five best and worst political moments of 2010

As 2010 winds down, we can’t help but think of what a crazy year it’s been in Toronto politics. The city has had the kind of election that will, quite frankly, be hard to describe to later generations. (“Well, Timmy, the mayor had forgotten about his drug possession charge because he was scared the reporters knew about his DUI.”) Even if we mostly strip out provincial and federal politics—no “Province of Toronto” talk or long-form census debacles—2010 was the year Hogtown’s politics went cuckoo for crazy puffs. So in the spirit of the holiday listicle, here are our choices for 2010’s five best and worst moments.


5. Adam Giambrone learns a valuable lesson in a public fashion
At the beginning of the year, the great left hope in the city’s election was Adam Giambrone, TTC chair and disciple of outgoing mayor David Miller. A series of text messages to his mistress about his “political” girlfriend and a front-page Toronto Star story later, Giambrone found himself giving a press conference so bad its badness reverberated forward through time—Giambrone’s assistant Kevin Beaulieu ran for the TTC chair’s ward and lost to Ana Bailão.

4. The Immigrant Question
Everything about the debate in which Rob Ford said he didn’t think Toronto should take in more immigrants was terrible—the statement itself, George Smitherman breaking Godwin’s Law in the follow-up, and then the multi-day indignation-fest from the other trailing candidates as they vainly tried to turn this into a winning issue. We’re so glad that we quickly moved to less divisive topics. Oh, wait.

3. Kyle Rae’s retirement party
Sure, Kyle Rae didn’t actually do anything illegal or unethical (by the city’s standards) when he had a $12,000 retirement party on the taxpayers’ dime, but does that matter to an electorate galvanized by governmental excess? Apparently no. Toronto Sun and Rob Ford successfully rode that particular train for all the gravy they could. Seriously, we’re here nine months later and Mayor Ford is still bringing it up in council meetings.

2. The cuts to Transit City
Since time immemorial, the iron law of transit planning in Toronto has been “at the last minute, choke.” And Dalton McGuinty and the Ontario Liberals honoured that law more than anyone this year. Rob Ford seems determined to finish off Transit City now, but it was the McGuinty Liberals who softened it up for him.

1. The G20 and everything after
No contest. Without a doubt, watching our city erupt in violence and vandalism while the police tended to more important matters—you know, whomping hippies—and then watching our elected leaders fall all over each other to try to shut down any criticism of the way things were handled by the cops was a #fail parade from beginning to end. We’re sincerely grateful that Rosie DiManno can take time out of her day to do the SIU’s job, but that’s supposed to be Plan B, right?

(Images: Giambrone, Tsar Kasim; Rob Ford, Shaun Merritt; burning car, James D. Schwartz; streetcar, Neil Ta from the Flickr pool)


5. Rob Ford enters the race
Certainly the biggest political event of the year for this city, this was the real starting gun for the election. Until Ford entered the race, we’d spent weeks arguing over whether bike lanes were evil, or merely stupid (thanks, Rocco Rossi). Like him or not, Ford’s entry in the race upped the ante for everyone.

4. David Miller screws with the media one more time
As the Ford juggernaut gathered momentum in the late summer, the city’s left started whispering to themselves about how great it would be if Miller would run again. Polls even showed he’d do well against Ford, so on the last day of candidate registration there was a collective gasp as Miller walked into council chambers with $200 cash—and psyched us all out. Well played, sir. Well played.

3. The TVO debate
In a race where nobody’s even sure how many debates there were in the end, only a few stood out—and of those, one was head and shoulders above the rest. Steve Paikin, national treasure and constitutionally required to moderate any debate he’s asked to, managed to get away from 90-second Q&As and give the debate some air. The candidates didn’t take the opportunity to distinguish themselves, but we can’t hold out for miracles here.

2. Any minute we found for laughter—and there were a lot
Whatever else we can say about this year, there were tons of people to help us find the funny. Whether it was joke candidates like @rebelmayor (kudos, Shawn Micallef) and Steve Murray, an ongoing parade of YouTube videos either about the election or, in one case, electronics disposal, and wackiness ensuing in blogs, this year was great for comedy.

1. Election night
And not just because the rating campaign was finally, mercifully over. The election was both the last day of one phase and the beginning of a whole new phase of Toronto politics. Even though the event itself, like any long tease, was surprisingly quick and anti-climactic the night was filled with enough surprise and cute kids to make it worth the price of admission. Of course, for junkies there was more than enough data from the election to pore over for days afterwards.