Don't fear the rise of the new
The discussion of mayoral leadership of the GTA needs to be elevated from budget to budget line item presentation to the electorate to ideas, agendas and model.
One such core issue is the "rise of the new" as the total population of GTA grows to 8.8 million (5.5 million of them visible minorities) by 2030. This is a sea change from 1960 when 80 per cent of Torontonians had their origin traced to British lineage.
The "rise of the new" should be one of the key issues for GTA: the transition we are going to witness will not only be a matter of dollar and cents, it will have serious political and cultural consequences.
The "rise of the new" need not be more destabilizing, as it is not going to be comprised of all homogeneous groups but will be a group of groups with its own push and pull.
The mainstream population will still be the most important group to exercise influence in every realm.
Although more assertive individual groups would mean more antagonists and demagogues, and if the mainstream Canadian leadership continues to be engaged in pandering politics, then it will give rise to bigoted extreme elements from these groups of new Canadians. THis will inevitably challenge our social fabric and many times foment sectarian problems in their country of origin as well.
On the other hand, it also means the presence of more negotiators and ethnic leaders with stakes in keeping the harmony and common interests of all. It is the organizing and encouraging of the impulse to keep harmony and common interests that new mayoral leadership should articulate: how Toronto would become more vibrant and prosperous city with the rise of the new.
The larger sections of the new Canadian groups share the same basic interests and ideals with the dominant mainstream population. They left their country of origin looking for Canada and not their country of origin in Canada.
The major leadership challenge for Rocco Rossi and George Smitherman and the other mayoral candidates is to articulate how to create co-operation among various communities on the common issues that plague us all - a new social architecture for the City of Toronto that would ensure peace, growth and sense of belonging for all.
The issue is not the decline of mainstream population by 2030, but the rise of the new. It is about the great transformation taking place in GTA, that is discussed prominently, but selectively, and remains poorly understood.
The distribution of power in GTA will shift. But question to ponder is, will it be controlled from the ethnic religious places which is mostly led by dogmatic, lesser educated with lesser mainstream exposure or by the larger section of these ethnic groups that is tolerant, accommodative, peaceful and moderate? Rise of the New doesn’t mean that we are entering a reverse discriminatory world by 2030, but we are moving into an era where it could be part of the solution for great city of Toronto in the globalized world. We will have greater success as Canada becomes more world-centric, globally engaged, and lesser dependent and sometimes lesser subservient to American interests. It will be defined and directed from many ethnic worlds and by many people.
What kind of challenges do these changes present? What do they portend for Toronto and for mainstream Canadians? What will the new GTA look like as our society, ideas and culture mix change? What will it mean to live in 2030 Toronto?
Will our mayoral candidates outline for all of us to debate and envision a shared world of Toronto marching towards 2030?