Yes We Council
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Yes We Council

Original graphic by Dave Meslin for Who Runs This Town? recoloured by Jonathan Goldsbie.
It’s been a little more than two weeks since the American election and a little more than one week since Dan Savage appeared on The Colbert Report, and yet we’re still visiting on a semi-daily basis, as part of our larger fixation on lapping up whatever statistics and polling data we can find. Well, here’s something that flew under the radar: on election day, published the results of a poll of Toronto City Council members, conducted by Ryerson j-school student Alexandra Hunnings, in which she asked each one for whom they would vote in the American election if they could. Not surprisingly, councillors “Overwhelmingly Back[ed] Obama,” as the headline proclaimed.
Presuming that a similar sentiment to Janeane Garofalo’s 2004 statement that “At this point, a vote for Bush is a character flaw” can be extended to support for McCain—whose platform and campaign became increasingly Bush-like—the Council’s choices are somewhat revealing. And so because our favourite pastimes include guessing the personal motivations of city councillors and making grossly sweeping observations about the left-right political spectrum, we shall do some speculating after the jump.

McCain “Voters”

Doug Holyday and Rob Ford: Although Ford is racist (but out of ignorance rather than malice, if that makes a difference), and Holyday resembles a slick southern lawyer (we often picture him wearing a straw hat and once told him as much), there’s little doubt that McCain’s call for an across-the-board spending freeze would have resonated with these proud pennypinchers.
Denzil Minnan-Wong: After Ford and Holyday, he’s probably the purest of Council’s right-wing ideologues and yet (ironically?) has a particular distaste for idealism.
John Parker: He was part of the PC caucus at Queen’s Park during the Mike Harris years and is fairly unapologetic about it. Like McCain, he’s occasionally wittier than you’d expect.
David Shiner: Now this is a disappointment. Although he ran as a Progressive Conservative in the last provincial election, he seems much more John Tory than Mike Harris (i.e. more reasonable than ideological, though this is debatable). As it’s not too uncommon for him to have tantrums at Council, maybe he identified with McCain’s legendary hotheadedness.
Mark Grimes: We’ve long suspected Grimes of being more conservative than he’s given credit for, though he likes to portray himself as a centrist. Regarding the packaging “compromise” he brokered at the Works Committee last week, he said, “I don’t think anyone’s happy, but I think maybe that’s the sign of a good motion.” Not the most inspiring argument for bipartisanship.

Obama “Voters”

David Miller, Joe Mihevc, Shelley Carroll, Pam McConnell, John Filion, Adam Vaughan, Glenn De Baeremaeker, Adam Giambrone, Howard Moscoe, Gord Perks, Janet Davis, Anthony Peruzza, Sandra Bussin, Adrian Heaps, Cliff Jenkins, Brian Ashton, Paul Ainslie, Kyle Rae, Cesar Palacio, Raymond Cho, Peter Milczyn, Bill Saundercook, Joe Pantalone: All centrist or left-ish members of Council, it would have been a shock if they had gone any other way.
Michael Thompson, Karen Stintz, Case Ootes: This is a pleasant surprise for all three, who are usually counted as reliable members of council’s reactionary right bloc but here show exactly what it is that elevates them above Ford, Holyday, Minnan-Wong, etc.
Suzan Hall, Gloria Lindsay Luby, Frances Nunziata, Mike Feldman, Giorgio Mammoliti, Ron Moeser, Frank Di Giorgio, Chin Lee: Good for them. Reassurance that the centre-right of Canada’s political spectrum is still consistently to the left of its US counterpart.
Michael Walker: Walker used to be Council’s McCain, back when that might have been a compliment, but he’s gradually been drifting towards conservative populist grandstanding… sort of like McCain. Good to know he hasn’t totally lost his bearings.

“Refused to participate”

Norm Kelly: A climate-change denier as recently as last year (though he’s apparently since changed his tune), a token right-winger on Miller’s Executive, and the chair of the Planning and Growth Management Committee, Kelly wouldn’t have had anything to lose by picking Obama but would likely have conceded some respect if he had said McCain. Our guess is that he’s a McCain man but savvy enough to have kept it to himself.
Mike Del Grande: There are any number of legitimate reasons why the right-leaning Del Grande may have declined to take part, but unlike Kelly he wouldn’t have had as much to lose by answering. Nevertheless, he probably deemed the whole exercise to be silly (which it is) and a potential opportunity for unnecessary embarrassment (which it also is).

“Ballot not cast”

Paula Fletcher: It’s not clear what “ballot not cast” means (maybe Hunnings couldn’t reach her?), but it’s inconceivable that the one-time leader of the Communist Party of Canada’s Manitoba branch, now an NDPer, wouldn’t have voted Democrat.


Maria Augimeri: For some reason, she was left off all of the lists. And even though she’s unironically been branded a maverick on Council (particularly among its NDPers), as both a poet and an academic she is the very model of a modern major generalization.