Gerry Nicholls writes of the newspaper coverage of the T.O. mayor's race:
Writes the [Toronto] Sun: “Either Rob Ford or George Smitherman, it appears, will be our next mayor and neither has a fiscal plan worth warm spit.”
And I guess, if an election was akin to some sort of academic exercise the Sun would be right.
However, elections are about politics. And in politics the last thing you want to do is talk about details.
The more details you divulge the more likely you are to drive away potential voters.
Well, Nicholls knows more about politics than I do, but I think he's wrong. Higher up the political food chain--federally and provincially--there is certainly a greater tendency towards vague platitudes, whether you think this is a healthy thing or not. But the municipal level is where the rubber hits the road; if you have a transit plan, then its pretty easy to find out if the numbers add up or not. There are no lower levels of government on which to dump the monetary burden, and fewer thimbles to hide the pea underneath.
One problem, though, is just as The Sun notes: the fiscal plans of all the major T.O. candidates are obviously inadequate. And you can expand this observation to their transit plans as well. Rocco Rossi--who I am still inclined towards--says he will bury the Allen Expressway. Yeah. Sure he will...if a gazillion $s land in his lap. Rob Ford says he'll close the TTC subway loop. Sure he will...if a gazillion $s land in his lap. The only candidate making sense is Joe Pantalone, who's basically holding to the transit city/metrolinx deal already negotiated with the province. And, for me, he's not really a voting option: at this point, the city doesn't need more Miller-lite (or, perhaps, Miller-short). So, there's a dilemma. I can't argue against a Rob Ford candidacy by appealing to the policy platforms of the other contenders; they're all crap.
Nevertheless, I wouldn't trade what has been a fairly high level of media engagement and analysis during this race for the depressing slop currently on offer at the federal level. I'd even go so far as to commend The Sun for the fact while, they are clearly in Ford's corner, they haven't been afraid to rake him over the coals once or twice.