I knew it would be painful to watch. The vacuous "youth-oriented" reporters with half a thought between them, the moderator who wasn't up to the job, questions that fell flat and answers that couldn't be heard as candidates hectored one another: Thank you CP24 for further dumbing down what might have been a useful exchange of ideas.
Pot shots, cheap shots, predictable and demeaning to all involved. Though we did get a preview of what a Toronto under Rob Ford might be like, what powers he's prepared to assume during the great fiscal dismantling, as he spoke of how he'd have asked the police chief to "move in" on protesters. It's black and white, he claimed, support for the cops or support for the demonstrators. Why he hasn't completely self-destructed is beyond me. His red-faced blustering, his reduction of the only female candidate to "nice lady", his heavy footed dance around the two full-time jobs he holds, and the two salaries. Tick tock tick tock, Mr. Ford.
George Smitherman has started to move, literally and figuratively, walking the streets of our city last week, appealing for votes, talking to real people, and that is all to the good. He can't refuse to participate in these ridiculous televised debates, but it's much better to see him on his own, he takes on more stature when he loses the ballast of the other candidates. He looks more like a real challenger for the office, maybe the only one in the field.
It might be useful for Smitherman to highlight some of the good that city hall does for its citizens, to counter the accusations of fiscal irresponsibility. There are, in the bureaucracy, some very intelligent, very effective people with great ideas, Rocco Rossi may concentrate on their salaries, but viewing some of the initiatives out there, some of the ways Toronto really makes a difference in the lives of its people, from public health to social services, would go a long way to renewing some faith in our local government.
Things like micro loans for youth: brilliant.
Poverty is such a huge problem in many neighbourhoods, encouraging local entrepreneurs is one way to ensure ways out. I have been part of a committee delivering a similar type program, one started by the sons of Dr. Reva Gerstein, who donated $10,000 a year for 10 years to psychiatric survivors with big ideas and empty pockets. Amounts from $500 to a few thousand have supported dozens and resulted in: foster parents for pets when people need to go to hospital, an on-line magazine for and by the poor, a documentary on emergency departments and their treatment of the mentally ill, even paid tuition for survivors wanting to continue their education.
Poverty is about lack of opportunity: given a chance, people really shine. So I hope that Smitherman will focus on the good that can be done, Ford and Rossi have enough to say on the bad.