To all of you visiting this site through the link from Warren Kinsella's blog, welcome. Warren gets a lot more hits than I do (by about an order of magitude or so), so whenever he links to me, my visitor count takes a significant jump. Thanks, Warren!
Like Andrew Spicer, I had some concerns over Warren's concerns over David Miller's victory speech on Monday night (see his November 11th post). I, myself, did not hear Miller's speech, so I can't comment on the text of it, but I belong to other boards, and have heard little in the way of criticism from average citizens who followed the results on election night; certainly, nothing to take as a sign that the Miller mayoralty will be as bad for Toronto as city council's last three years.
Warren has since deconstructed Miller's speech (see his November 12th entry), highlighting the points he thought were particularly troublesome. Not having heard the speech in person, I still can't comment on the whole text of it, but it wouldn't be the first time a politician has given a bad speech and lived. It has been said that John F. Kennedy gave a very lacklustre speech at his party nomination, so much so that it may well have lulled Nixon into a false sense of security before the 1960 presidential election.
No, I'm not saying that Miller is just like Kennedy (my glasses aren't nearly that rosy); what I'm saying is that a speech is not the only thing which defines a mayor. In the coming weeks, we will get a clearer signal of how Miller's term in office is going to go. Miller knows that, although he was elected by the voters of the whole city of Toronto, his power is mostly symbolic. To actually bring about his vision for the city, he has to persuade the majority of the city's councillors to follow it. Analysis suggests that he faces a council with 12 members on the left, 16 members on the right, and 16 members on the centre, so he hasn't been given a bunch of lackeys. Unlike provincial and federal politics, Miller can't whip a party into line, he has to build consensus.
Similarly, to Warren's comment that David Miller will act as the leader of the provincial opposition from the mayor's seat, I don't think the timing is right for that. Unless a total catastrophe occurs, Miller will be up for reelection a year before Dalton McGuinty is. There is no way that he can "pick off" Liberal MPPs and, if there is one thing that Mel Lastman showed in his last six years in office, squawking at Queen's Park alone doesn't achieve results, and Toronto needs results now.
These past couple of days, I've seen good signs that Miller is building consensus well. He has called, individually, the 44 councillor-elects and discussed the upcoming council with them. He has sat down and had a cordial, informal meeting with David Collenette. He has blitzed the media, and has come across as an intelligent, calm and rational man of vision. I may not have heard his victory speech, but I did hear what he said to John Tory when the man came over to offer a personal (and very classy) concession speech; in person, Miller was gracious to Tory, and told him that, if he wishes it, he still has much to offer in the drive to make Toronto a better city.
The new council doesn't sit until December 2nd, and already there are a number of tests for the Miller mayoralty: the $340 million budget shortfall and the Island Airport are going to dominate the agenda, and we will see early on the stuff that Miller is made of.
A welcome to all visitors from the Crazed Monkey, by the way. Thanks for the link!
For the most part, the elections in Waterloo Region held little in the way of surprises. Kitchener's mayor, Carl Zehr, won with over 80% of the vote. Regional Chairman Ken Seiling also won in a cakewalk. In general, the incumbents all kept their seats -- except in the City of Waterloo. There, the lingering effects of the MFP scandal over Rim Park (yes, there was more than one MFP scandal; Waterloo got hit as well as Toronto, and also Windsor, I believe) cost just about every incumbent their job. Lynn Wollstoncroft, the incumbent mayor, gone! Morty Taylor, mayoral candidate and former city councillor, also gone. The new mayor: Herb Epp, former mayor of the City of Waterloo (1974-1977) and a former member of David Petersen's Liberals. After thirteen years out of politics, Mr. Epp has come out of retirement, taken 50% of the vote, and now leads a council almost entirely composed of new faces.
Miller may have held the broom on election night, but in Waterloo a real sweep took place.
Today is a big day for us. Today is Erin's Kitchener launch for Ghost Maps. She will be reading in the Hamblin Room of the Kitchener Public Library at 7 pm this evening. My family have been spreading the word, working tirelessly to get the news out to bookstores, the universities and even the legion halls. The very kind review that appeared this past Saturday in the K-W Record might also help turn out the crowds. There will be a dessert tray and juice and, best of all, good poetry.
If you're in town tonight, consider stopping by. Alternately, if you are in Toronto on November the 27th, come on down to Nicholas Hoare books at 7 pm for Erin's Toronto launch.