The great-as-per-usual John Lorinc has a new piece on Spacing today, discussing the string of votes that went against the mayor at last week’s council meeting:
What’s the take-away? The Fords like to believe their electoral mandate – and subsequent polling results – magically translates into touchdowns at council. Not true, especially with a mayor whose diplomatic skills are roughly on par with those of a typical schoolyard bully.
The newbies, it seems, may not want to be manhandled all the time. But these results aren’t just about ineffective whipping and insufficient stroking. Those close losses for the brothers reveal, to me, that the mushy middle councillors, and even some of the mayor’s loyalists, are feeling a wee bit uncomfortable with the program.
When Ford was elected, there was a prevailing wisdom that said, given his large popular mandate, those who had previously opposed him on council would need to buckle down, extend a hand, and work with the new mayor.
Ford, too, expressed a willingness to work with council and, beyond the immediate political sphere, bring together Toronto residents. On election night, he took to the stage at the Toronto Congress Centre and declared “Tonight the city of Toronto is not divided. We are united.” Later, his brother, a newly elected councillor himself, told The National Post’s Natalie Alcoba that he did “not believe in this left- right scenario … because I believe every councillor has great ideas.”
The obvious move on both council’s left and right was to soothe tensions, find common ground, make some concessions, and — above all — compromise. The left has had its moments of partisanship — certain opposition councillors do have a tendency to grandstand and make every item sound like critical life-or-death business — but they have, in my estimation, made an effort to work within the structure and mandate of the new council. The night of the TCHC vote, for example, was nothing if not a serious of attempted compromises — let the elected reps stay; let the alternate elected reps stay; keep the appointed councillors on the board; etc. — all of which were summarily shot down until the mayor got his way.
Indeed, from the very first day of council, when Don Cherry took the podium and playfully insulted half the city’s population — after which, Ford told him his remarks were great –, the mayor has almost always refused to compromise. Eschewing a “big tent” scenario, his political tent has gotten smaller by the month, shedding allies and alienating community groups. And now he’s losing votes.