Tuesday night's mayoralty debate on CP24 was an improvement, more substance, less emphasis on cutaways. The candidates let each other complete sentences and thoughts, and mercifully there were fewer interruptions from the painfully young reporter with the big microphone. The moderator is getting better at his job, and the audience was engaged and vocal. Still, not a lot of excitement generated about the election.
John Tory wrapped it up this way, and I think he's right. None of the candidates is giving us a vision of what our city would look like if we vote for him or her. George Smitherman talks about a safe city that gets you home quickly. Not an inspiring vision, nothing to brand a T-shirt with. Rob Ford is all about cut, slash, abolish, and, after Tuesday night, it would seem a Toronto under Ford would have a great big wall erected around it to keep out those troublesome foreigners.
Ford is his own caricature.
Smitherman needs to show us what his Toronto would look like, in all its aspects. How business would do, how the arts would fare, how the poor would find a way into the mainstream from the margins, how social justice would play out. He is an intelligent, well-rounded, interesting man, he has courage and ideas, he looks and feels like a competent and charismatic politician.
One of the reasons I like him is that when he was health minister, he reached out to the psychiatric survivor community, he didn't need to be supportive of us, but he was, and that meant a great deal.
Toronto would move forward under Smitherman, and maybe even onto the world stage, and he is the only candidate ready for that kind of profile. He has depth and smarts, he can be both a street fighter when required and a powerful debater, he has -and its just starting to show- a passion for the job.
Smitherman also has his drawbacks: he can be a bully, and I hope he's working to eliminate that side of himself. But he's someone Toronto needs, someone council needs, imperfect, yes, a work in progress, yes, but also someone Toronto can take pride and reassurance in.