For a decision to bring the re-opening of community centres to a vote in the next two weeks, Toronto’s Mayor Miller has been accused of bowing to pressure and flip-flopping on the issue.
It doesn’t really matter how the Star swings this thing. The past three weeks has been an act of brazen, awesome political theatre on the part of Miller. For those opposed to his ends, perhaps ‘shocking’ instead of awesome.
Miller did exactly what he needed to do to win the necessary support for the new taxes in the upcoming October vote: put a camera-ready service, that the middle class was willing to fight for, on the chopping block for – wait for it – a total of two Mondays.
Now, Miller may come off looking like a ‘flip-flopper’ or an opportunist, a political hack. Royson James, if he hadn’t already reached the limit of his ire, would probably have reached it after this series of decisions. But the Mayor has also tied serious, meaningful, painful service cuts to the taxes he wanted – just in time for the October vote on those taxes. Who would want to be the councillor voting for the re-closure of the community centres, after being on the local news for two weeks speaking out against those cuts? With three years left in his term, the taxes will still be around when the Mayor is done his, but the two Mondays without community centres will be gone from collective memory.
So, Miller ‘loses’, but he gets what he wants, which is what the city needs. And he’s still Mayor. Cynical? Sure. But nowhere near as cynical as all the councillors who voted against the proposal without offering alternatives, who changed their mind on the vote, losing the city $60 million this year, and who have focused on trashing the Mayor to their own political gain instead of mounting either i) support for the new taxes or ii) support for a meaningful alternative. Sometimes, when you’re dealing with whining children, you’ve got to play headmaster. Which he has done with style.
So, good on you, Mayor Miller. Bring on the new taxes.