Archived columns and blog posts by Matt Elliott

3 Christmas wishes for Toronto city hall in 2014

By: Metro Published on Mon Dec 23 2013

Last year, in my final column before the holidays, I put together a Christmas wish list for Toronto City Hall — three things that I wanted to see happen in 2013.

Christmas, I reasoned, is a time to be hopeful.

I’ll stand by that again this year.

Because it paid off. Sort of.

Looking back at the list, two of the three things I wished for came to pass. I asked for more information on the crumbling Gardiner Expressway. We got it.

I asked for a new mayor, and we got it — kind of — with Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly now setting the tone at city hall. And I asked for a new focus on the issues, and not on circus sideshows. And, um, well, that last one didn’t happen. But two out of three ain’t bad.

So let’s double down. Heading into an election year at city hall, there’s a lot to hope for.

1. An election that isn’t all about Mayor Rob Ford. Everyone involved in the mayoral race needs to understand that Mayor Rob Ford is not himself a civic issue. Civic issues are things like infrastructure, transit, taxes and policing.

If the most common question being asked during the campaign is something like “does Rob Ford deserve another chance?” then we’ll have asked the wrong questions.

We can do better.

2. An army of fact-checkers working round-the-clock. My biggest frustration with politics is what scholar Stephen Colbert has called “truthiness”: arguments or claims that are presented as truth without evidence. We’ve seen a lot of that in Toronto.

So in 2014, let’s not let municipal candidates get away with dodgy facts. I’m hoping to see a really strong effort from city hall watchers to separate truth from fiction.

3. A focus on individual council races. The last item on my list comes as a sincere request to you — yeah, you. If you’re reading this and you live in Toronto, I want you to learn about your local representative on city council.

If you like what your councillor has to say, awesome. If you don’t, look into who might be running against them. Consider volunteering. Heck, consider running yourself.

While most eyes in the city will be on the mayoral race, there will be 45 individual elections taking place across the city in 2014. And each of those elections will grant the winning candidate a vote at city council — one vote, just the same as the mayor will have.

And that vote is important, because local government matters. For too long we’ve let local representatives use apathy to their advantage. Next year could be the year that starts to change.

That’s the hope, anyway.

This post was originally published at on 2013-12-23T00:00:00.000Z

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Matt Elliott

City Hall watcher, columnist and policy wonk in Toronto.
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