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EDITORIAL: In search of a mayor

Wednesday 11 August 2010 No Comment

Editorial in Share, Canada’s Largest Ethnic Newspaper

Former Ontario Conservative Party leader, John Tory, has put an end to speculation over his plans for October’s mayoralty race. He is not running.

Tory, who is already very active in civic life as Co-chair of the Toronto City Summit Alliance and has his own radio talk show, has made it clear that he will not run for mayor of Toronto a second time. This should end the public’s (and mainstream media’s) infatuation with the idea.

In response, a Toronto Star editorial stated, apparently without any intention of being ironic: “Voters now have to choose among Rob Ford, George Smitherman, Rocco Rossi and Joe Pantalone. Sarah Thomson, as the only credible woman in the race, is another possibility.”

Already, some are even calling this a two-man race between Toronto city councillor turned mayoral candidate Rob Ford (who is promising to cut spending on everything) and former Ontario Deputy Premier George Smitherman (who no longer looks like the shoo-in he seemed earlier on).

As of this week there are 35 registered mayoral candidates. Yet mainstream media from the beginning anointed only six as worthy of consideration. One of them, Ward 7 councillor Giorgio Mammoliti, whose ambitious reach surely exceeded his grasp of political reality, has since quit the race. As a reminder of the quality of candidates that have been given the limelight, Mammoliti’s pathetic parting shot was: “Perhaps the city isn’t ready for a mayor like me. Perhaps some day they will be.”

We should live that long.

There are always those who register as candidates for reasons that do not strongly rest on seriously campaigning for the post – the so-called fringe candidates – but the presumptuousness that went into the lazy newsroom selection of so-called frontrunners has come back to haunt those who made these decisions. Now they complain about the dearth of inspiring candidates among the ‘frontrunners’.

Had they provided us with a more honest appraisal of all the candidates, who knows, they might have found some who might be legitimate (and more exciting) contenders. By arbitrarily leaving them out, they not only denied them but also the rest of us the opportunity to hear other ideas for our city and possible identify some potential leaders.

This has left an overwhelming number of voters still looking for a deserving mayoralty candidate for whom to vote come October.

Campaign websites notwithstanding, a voter would have to be pretty driven if he or she hopes to make an informed choice about any of the other contenders who could be taken seriously come Election Day.

If you hadn’t read Share’s report on African Canadian lawyer, Rocco Achampong’s mayoral bid which came weeks before the few articles mentioning him in the mainstream, you would have been surprised that he is among the candidates. And, before Pastor Wendell Brereton was mentioned in The Toronto Star in an article about Ford, it was Share that noted Brereton’s run for mayor. (Brereton has since withdrawn and is now running for a seat on City Council.)

In Canada, more specifically in Toronto, a city that prides itself on its diversity, it is indefensible that an unspoken pattern of political exclusion is influencing this mayoral race.

If you haven’t seem their names anywhere else, here is a list of other candidates registered to run for mayor who have not been in the mainstream spotlight: George Babula, Christopher Ball, Andrew Barton, Jaime Castillo, Kevin Clarke, Keith Cole, Charlene Cottle, James Di Fiore, Selwyn Firth, Michael Flie, Abdullah-Baquie Ghazi, Howard Gomberg, Monowar Hossain, Dewitt Lee, John Letonja, Carmen Macklin, Colin Magee, Jim McMillan, Joseph Pampena, Mark State, Tibor Steinberger, Himy Syed, Phil Taylor, David Vallance, Ratan Wadhwa, Daniel Walker and Sonny Yeung.

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