Archived columns and blog posts by Matt Elliott

Stintz's 'flip flopper' label may overshadow some interesting ideas: Matt Elliott

By: Matt Elliott Metro, Metro Published on Wed Apr 09 2014

I remember when I first thought Karen Stintz might make a good mayor. It was February 8, 2012, the day she led Toronto City Council to ignore the all-subway transit fantasies pushed by Mayor Rob Ford and return to the fully-funded Transit City light rail plan. On that day, she was principled, strategic and unwavering. Exactly what you’d want a mayor to be.

But a lot has happened since then. Of late, on issues like the Scarborough subway and island airport expansion, Stintz is on record publicly endorsing one position before adopting another.

So when Stintz came to the Metro Toronto newsroom for an interview, we asked her about that, reading a question about her change in position on the Scarborough subway from @MrIanMcIntyre.

She didn’t back away from the question. Instead, she pointed to how a shifting funding situation caused her to rethink Scarborough transit. Then she went further, and cast her willingness to change positions on issues as an asset, not a liability.

“At city hall, when circumstances change, you’re required to come and back and look at the new circumstances,” she told us, adding that “part of being a mayor is being able to build consensus and being able to look at new information in a new way and say, OK: have things changed? Do we need to think of things in a new way?”

I’d agree that a big part of being a successful mayor is building consensus and sometimes compromising. But while a willingness to change course may be an important attribute in the committee rooms of city hall, it’s not something that necessarily plays well on the campaign trail, where the “flip-flopper” label is hard to shake.

Which is a shame, because her campaign has put together some interesting policies so far. The notion of hiring a transportation czar is worth exploring, and her plan to build the relief subway line at least has some funding behind it with a partial sale of Toronto Hydro. The same can’t be said for some of her opponents.

But I fear Stintz’s challenge won’t be her policies. It’ll be convincing voters that she’ll stick to them.

This post was originally published at on 2014-04-09T00:00:00.000Z

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Matt Elliott

City Hall watcher, columnist and policy wonk in Toronto.
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