Posts Tagged: political parties

Jul 11

Toronto [heart] Partisan Politics

Councillor Josh Matlow, writing in his weekly column for the Toronto Star:

The once disenfranchised right now seem to relish their newfound ability to dismiss the left and overturn much of what was done during Mayor Miller’s tenure, and honestly believe that if they give the “opposition” any slack, Ford Nation’s “cultural revolution” might be impeded.

However, the right’s determination to fulfill their agenda, and their desire for revenge, only continues the hyper-partisan politics that Torontonians recently rejected. It reminds me of how many revolutionaries around the world have acted after overthrowing a dictator. They often become tyrants themselves.

via City Hall Diary: Councillors need to stop relishing revenge – (Emphasis added.)

Wait, hold on. When did Torontonians recently reject hyper-partisan politics? When they elected Rob Ford? The guy who whipped up populist anger against public sector unions, downtown elitists and opponents he described as gravy-peddlers? The guy who continues to stand up and call his colleagues tax-and-spend socialists?

I don’t think that narrative really holds together very well, Councillor.

Speaking of partisanship, though, there’s been some interesting movement amongst progressive voices within the city to develop strategies to more effectively combat the Ford hegemony at City Hall.

First, Daren Foster at local blog All Fired Up In the Big Smoke has announced “Project 23“, an effort to convince swing-vote Councillors or those allied with Ford who have shown signs of independence to ally themselves more firmly against the mayor. A group of 23 councillors who don’t take marching orders from the Mayor’s Office would immediately diminish the power Rob Ford wields over council decisions. The outcome might actually look more like the post-partisan wonderland councillors like Matlow often yearn for.

Second, former City Hall reporter Mike Smith contributes “The Long Game“, a good look at the ins-and-outs of City Council politics and what activists and concerned voters need to do if they want to be effective in opposing this administration.

Smith recommends that people stop with the goddamn “let’s all phone the mayor!” pile-ons, something I’d absolutely agree with:

Ford’s strategists have been good at (or lucky in) exploiting the corporate press’ reluctance to empower us with understanding of how government actually works — scary headlines about the next program the Mayor’s decided to kill do two things: make people think it’s a fait accompli, and, sometimes, rev up pointless campaigns to pressure the Mayor, who, by the time things are making their way to Council, is the hardest of the “hard” votes.

via The Long Game |

Hundreds — if not thousands — of cyclists called the mayor in advance of the vote to kill the Jarvis bike lanes. None of those calls were logged nor are they likely to have made any kind of impression in the mayor’s mind. Jarvis was always a longshot save for the Left, but a coordinated strategy to call individual members like the sometimes-wavering Councillor Jaye Robinson or even stalwarts that should know better, like the flip-flopping Peter Milczyn, would have made more of a difference.

Call it partisan politics or call it good strategy. Whatever. The alternative seems to be this thing where we pretend Torontonians rejected partisanship, ignore the existence of ideology and make continual appeals for everyone to vote with their conscience. It is not working out very well so far.

Mar 11

When it’s time to party we will party hard

At Eye Weekly, Edward Keenan makes the case for bringing parties to municipal politics in Toronto:

The way municipal government in Toronto currently functions is already similar to a party system: right now, the mayor seems to be directly controlling the votes of about 22 councillors. The opposition, organized around the NDP’s unofficial caucus, controls about 14 or 15 votes. The other dozen or so are swing votes. It’s just that everyone pretends there are no teams, because every councillor wants to appear to be a free-thinker, with allegiance only to his or her constituents.

But formalizing party alliances would add some coherence to the debate. Councillors have an obligation to consider their local constituents, while parties could specialize in big-picture, city-wide thinking. Instead of having a single vision—the mayor’s—that each councillor, for varying reasons, is either for or against, we’d have two or three separate articulated visions. The mayor’s proposals could be weighed against alternatives, rather than simply against the status quo.

via Let’s get these parties started – EYE WEEKLY.

I do think there’s some merit to the idea, especially as it would serve to codify what already exists. I’d hate for things to get so rigid, though, that council votes would be a foregone conclusion. One of the things that makes council so entertaining is that – despite the whips – votes often go in unexpected and surprising ways.

The real benefit to parties would be that it would force some councillors who like to keep quiet to actually develop principles (and, sure, ideology) rather than tailoring their views to whomever the mayor happens to be.