Tale of two mayors .. and the case of the hospital consultants (“who spent freely on travel and entertainment”)

Oct 23rd, 2010 | By | Category: In Brief

New Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi, in front of Old Calgary City Hall where mayor's office is located — at the start of his campaign in the warmer weather. Photo: Calgary Herald.

Even in Toronto the local intelligentsia are moaning: “No Torontonian can look west … without feeling a pang of jealousy. The election of Naheed Nenshi as mayor of Calgary is the most exciting political event of the year. He makes the trio of candidates for mayor of Toronto  look like stale remnants of another age.” (See also “Calgary’s Naheed Nenshi becomes Canada’s first Muslim mayor.”)

Meanwhile, from the other side of the Ottawa River, the lovely  Chantal Hébert is advising that “Calgary, Toronto votes provide lessons for federal politicians.” And it may be, according to the latest poll by none other than Frank Graves of EKOS, that the October 25 Toronto election is likely to turn “conventional wisdom on its head,” just like Calgary on October 18 — albeit in the opposite direction, as it were.

As Ms.  Hébert has explained, in neither case is the upended municipal conventional wisdom likely to translate directly into federal politics. But if the loose-canon right-winger (and/or extremely stale remnant of another age) Rob Ford actually does become Mayor of Toronto for the next four years, the Toronto Star’s Bob Hepburn has offered an explanation that probably  has at least a few federal political implications worth thinking about.

For those who could quite rightly care less, the 2010 Toronto mayoral race has three main contenders (or as some might say, two and a half): Rob Ford, on some kind of Canadian tea-party or at least extreme Harperite right; George Smitherman on the Liberal centre-left; and Joe Pantalone on the “hard-core NDP-led left.”

Mayoral candidate Joe Pantalone speaks after receiving public endorsement from federal NDP leader and former Toronto councillor Jack Layton at Toronto City Hall, August 25, 2010. Photo: RICHARD LAUTENS/TORONTO STAR.

Polls have suggested that if just Mr. Ford and Mr. Smitherman were in the race, Mr. Smitherman would win handily enough. But with Pantalone on board, there is apparently a large enough minority who feel it is somehow more principled (or morally superior or something like that?) to vote for him. And, as Bob Hepburn has explained: “By staying in the race to the end, Pantalone and the hard-core NDP-led left … some progressive city councillors and several big city union leaders, may be denying Smitherman a victory and conceding the mayor’s post to Ford.”

Some Pantalone syndrome of some similar sort, over a much wider swath of northern North American geography, you may imagine, also plays an important enough part in the recipe for keeping Stephen Harper Prime Minister of Canada. Meanwhile (again), our resident Ontario historian, Randall White, has prepared something of an extended briefing note on very vaguely related developments in the regional politics of Canada’s most populous province. It deals with the deep background to the latest alleged appalling boondoggles at Queen’s Park. You can check it out at “ONTARIO TONIGHT: Friday 22 October 2010 — Lobbyists and growth of government relations industry … the case of the hospital consultants.”

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