“A tale of two cities.”

The words of Charles Dickens are ageless: ”It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity…” He wrote those words 60 years after the worst of the French Revolution was over and yet they are as timeless today as they were then.

Dickens words came to mind as I considered the campaigns for re-election of two mayors, in two of my favourite cities. The first is John Tory of Toronto and the second is Jeff Lehman of Barrie. Both mayors have declared their candidacy in their respective cities and neither, as of now, has had any serious challenge.

John Tory is one of my favourite conservatives. He is a lawyer by profession, a part of the firm of the family name. He learned his conservatism over years of volunteering and working with conservative icon, and former Ontario premier, Bill Davis.

In his first run at being mayor of Canada’s largest city, John defeated former city counselor Doug Ford and the new democratic party’s dowager Olivia Chow (Jack Layton’s widow). It was a tough fight for the job and John Tory has spent the past four years showing that it was a good choice.

If you think Jeff Lehman had it easier the first time he ran in Barrie, he had to defeat a former mayor and a former MPP for the job. The size of the problems might be smaller (less than 150,000 population versus Toronto’s 2,500,000) but the job is just as complex and demanding.

Jeff Lehman bats over 300 in terms of his job as he is also a director of the largest municipally-owned public utility in the province and chairs a caucus of the mayors of 27 of Ontario’s largest cities. His advantage is that he has his post-graduate degree from the London School of Economics and previously made his living advising municipal bodies on maximizing their infrastructure planning and financing.

As most experts can tell you, economists are what are most needed in municipal politics. If property owners want their taxes kept under control, they need municipal politicians who know how to control spending.

I will run a few more comments on these two cities by you as the municipal campaign in Ontario moves toward the October 22 vote.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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