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Toronto: now is the time to pay attention

September 10, 2014

I am writing this because tonight, a man I immensely respect and admire announced his decision to withdraw from the most critical and scrutinized election my native city of Toronto has ever faced. I’m proud to say I volunteered for David Soknacki, and on his behalf spent many hours canvassing people both at their doorsteps and in the streets. Today was his 60th birthday, and in a crowd of family and friends, he made a stirring speech to cap off a campaign that was classy and dignified to the very end.

Over the past four years, Mayor Rob Ford and his despicable brother Doug have dominated the headlines of the media. Their shameful catalogue of abhorrent behaviour goes far beyond the usual sickly pallor of spinelessness that’s all-too-common in our civic discourse, and long ago crossed into an exasperating, nihilistic attack on the values shared by our society. They used unrepentant cronyism, nepotism, and short-sighted NIMBY tactics to get where they did; these men are all of the worst aspects of politics personified. The Fords’ legacy is a terrible blight on our city’s good name, both here and abroad. They and their supporters continuously bully, cajole, and shout down anyone who disagrees with whatever racist, misogynist, vitriolic and otherwise plain-wrong bile that passes their lips.

David Soknacki, who until this day fought hard in the months-long race for the Mayoral office, has been doing everything the opposite way. He has been engaging and friendly with all people, supporters and strangers alike, speaking in complete paragraphs with carefully chosen words backed by real policy. His campaign platform is a truly viable model for a more considerate, more fair, more prosperous, more SENSIBLE city. Rather than preach his vision, however, we asked many a concerned citizen all across the city what they considered their top issue in the election. The most common answer I encountered by far was “getting rid of the Ford circus”. It’s simply inescapable: these men suck the air out of any conversation about municipal politics. The sooner they are gone, the sooner we can rebuild something resembling a normal dialogue in this town.

Our top priority going forward must be voting them out of City Hall, with a clean, undisputed win for other candidates. As much as it saddens me that our next mayor will not be David Soknacki, who was unreservedly my top choice, I continue to believe in the goodness of this city’s people. They will not repeat the devastating mistake of electing the Fords in 2010; they will choose someone else. How could they not? We have all evidence before us of the damage Mayor Ford and his brother have done with their horrendous lies, toxic belligerence, and empty bluster. They have brought the game down to their level. We cannot accept that. I will look forward to the outcome of the election on October 27th, and I trust that the people of this city will do the right thing.

Rob and Doug Ford Must Go.

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