It is obvious that Ontario Conservative leader ‘Tiny Tim’ Hudak has never served on a municipal council. He seems to have absolutely no idea how the mayor and council interrelate. This must be causing confusion for those of his Conservative members who got their political start in municipal politics. Some of them have also served as mayors. They could explain to Tiny Tim the mistakes Toronto Mayor Ford has made with his city’s councillors.
Tiny Tim has been suggesting to Premier McGuinty that the Ontario government should only support Mayor Ford’s vision of subways. McGuinty has been smart enough to say no and that he will abide by the council’s decision between Light Rapid Transit or subways. McGuinty has enough problems without taking on a rebellious Toronto council.
There is certainly no need for anyone to be surprised that city council has had enough of Toronto’s abrasive mayor. Ford was always odd man out as a councillor. It was like his promise to Toronto voters that he would end the gravy train at city hall. They voted for him and then found out he was the gravy train.
It was obvious a year ago last summer that Ford was set to win the mayor’s chair in Toronto. The only viable opponent was George Smitherman, the openly gay former minister in the McGuinty government. Smitherman was an easy winner downtown while Ford reaped the conservatism of the suburbs. The suburbs are bigger. It was no contest.
But the mayoralty is no holy grail. The job has residual power but it is power that has to be exercised with care and flair. The mayor has to build an alliance with the city officials because s/he works closely with them. If the mayor exercises the power well, the mayor gets more done. The mayor also chairs council and the executive committee. If you know how to wield the gavel, it is power.
But the mayor is still just one vote. To wield power, you need allies. You need to build bridges to former opponents. You have to make nice and work toward the possible. Making new enemies on council just bares your back for more knives.
Looking at it another way, you have to remember that council is the mayor’s mob. The mayor just has to be smart enough to lead that mob to where both sides want to go.
Copyright 2012 © Peter Lowry
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