Happy 175th Birthday, Toronto

I love it because I was born there. I was able to thrive there. I could go where I wanted to go and be safe, and I didn’t need to get a driver’s license until I was 23. I had all the freedom I wanted, and as good a variety of experience as anybody could ask for.

I know there are bigger cities. I know there are older cities. I know there are cities with stunning architecture, both in North America and Europe. I know there are cities with a stronger culture. I know there are plenty of big cities where I can make a decent home for myself and be happy. I can see myself living happily in Chicago, for instance. Toronto isn’t a world leader, and it has wasted far too much time and effort pretending to be “world class” when its greatest strength was simply in being itself. It has the skyscrapers, it has the sports teams, it has the variety, and while it might not be the calibre of New York or Montreal, it at least has it here.

Toronto is my home town and the town of my experience. It will always be the city I picture when I picture city life, and I am not at all displeased that this is how things are. The city has a lot of challenges to face in the future, a lot of problems to overcome, but for today we can celebrate the fact that it has come this far, that over two and a half million decent people call it home, and it has hope.

Happy 175th birthday, Toronto. You deserve it.

Further Reading

John Tory Press Conference

Here Lies the Political Career of John Tory

He was a decent man. And therein may have lain the problem.

Congratulations to Rick Johnson, Liberal candidate and now MP for Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock, for pulling off an upset and for changing the face of Ontario politics for the next two years. As expected, the race for the new leader of the Ontario Conservatives began today. I have my doubts as to whether Rick can pull off this victory again come 2011.

Consider, Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock is deep in the Conservative rural heartland, and the Conservative candidate in 2007 won that election by over 50% of the vote. To have that percentage of the vote drop by over ten points, when the McGuinty government has remained static in the polls, speaks volumes. It looks like voters in the riding repudiated John Tory personally. Can Rick match his performance come 2011 when voters will be passing judgement on Dalton McGuinty instead of John Tory?

If Rick wins re-election, it will mean the end of two years of hard work, either on his part to connect with the voters of Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock, or on the part of the McGuinty government to make inroads on the Ontario rural vote. (Note: since writing this post, I’ve learnt that Rick has lived in the riding for 22 years. That’s a good place to start.)

As for John Tory, I feel bad for the guy that he had to lose so ignominiously. He would have made a good mayor of Toronto, even though I am still a supporter of David Miller. He would have provided much better competition for Miller had he been around to run in the 2006 election, but it was not to be.

As for the next Conservative leader, the race appears to be coalescing around Tim Hudak and Rick Hillier. Hillier, in my opinion, would doom the Conservatives to the rural fringe. Hudak has a broader appeal. I personally hope that Elizabeth Witmer joins the race, as she is an excellent and capable politician, able to build a coalition on the centre right, but we’ll just have to wait and see.

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