After twenty-two videos and a month of pithy commentary, let’s let Councillor Gord Perks sum this whole thing up: “Over the last twenty hours,” he says in the video above, his remarks coming in the very early morning. “I have experienced something that I have never experienced in twenty years as a community activist and five years as an elected official: I heard Toronto speak.”
That epic-length Executive Committee meeting has faded into the background over the last month, replaced with endless and seemingly circular debates around things like waterfront development and communism. The episodic nature of politics under Mayor Rob Ford unfortunately means that we run the risk of getting ourselves lodged in a deep rut of formulaic outrage and ridicule as this administration skips from one contentious policy announcement to the next.
But what really matters, I think, when you get past the weekly sitcom-esque plot lines, is the kind of overarching message expressed in these videos I’ve posted. It’s a sentiment that says yes, we do care about this city. And, yes, we will stay up all night and take time off work and speak — and sometimes sing and rhyme and present puppet shows — even if we know, deep down, that the elected officials at the other side of the table probably aren’t likely to listen or care.
Because Torontonians love Toronto. After the tone and the outcome of the 2010 municipal election, it feels good to write that. To believe it.
Anyway, if these videos represent anything it’s a defence against anyone who would dare to dismiss the deputants as nothing but union members or people representing organizations who get city grants. Of the 22 people I chose to highlight, I picked deputants who were mostly not speaking for or on behalf of unions. Most of them have little-to-no political history. To dismiss these people as trough-feeders or “left-wing NDP people that always got this money handed to them” — as the mayor did in an interview with Sun News Network soon after the meeting — is flat-out wrong.
This is what Toronto sounds like.