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Sunday, September 26, 2010

Persichilli: One of the few voices of sanity at al-Starzeera

There's one columnist at al-Starzeera whom I haven't mentioned previously in this blog and I regret that.

Partially, it's because his column only appears once a week on Sundays and the other reason is that his main gig is as political editor of the Italian-Canadian newspaper Corriere Canadese, so I don't think of him so much as being a Star columnist.

But he is and he deserves mention, because he is one of the few editorial anomalies in the organization that gives a forum to the habitually uninformed hysteria of James Travers, Heather Mallick, Haroon Siddiqui, Christopher Hume, Antonia Zerbisias, Linda McQuaig, et cetera.

There are a couple of others, like Martin Regg Cohn, to be sure, but they are the rare exceptions in that organization.

Angelo Persichilli's column are routinely informative, insightful and he actually has the connections in Ottawa and the Liberal Party to be able to report based on credible information rather than wild, paranoid speculation.

Today he wrote a column about what Rob Ford's candidacy represents that has shown a level of insight and maturity that reminded me how out of place he is at The Toronto Star.  I don't agree with Persichilli about his notion of bike lanes being such a representation of the urban/suburban and elitist/public divide. If that were the case than Rocco Rossi wouldn't be the last-place candidate with single digit polling numbers. But basically, Persichilli nails it:

Rob Ford is neither a candidate to fear nor a political phenomenon. He is only an individual who is in the right place at the right time. The Oct. 25 vote is not about Ford, it’s a referendum on outgoing Mayor David Miller and his cronies.

This campaign is about four things: the repudiation of Miller’s vision of Toronto; the revolt of the suburban “colonies”; the frustration of people in the downtown core; and the inability of the other candidates to understand the first three of these factors.

Miller thinks that his Toronto is the real Canada. He’s wrong. Miller’s Toronto it’s only a distillation of this complex country seen through magnifying, distorting glasses. His Toronto is a concentration of Canadian virtues and imperfections, blown up and stuffed together into a few square kilometres around city hall.

There we have the best museums, art galleries and universities, but also a lot of ignorance just a few hundred metres away from those institutions. There are religious icons like St. Michael’s Cathedral, but also in the same street many organizations that are challenging Catholic doctrine. You find the opulent banks at Bay and King, but also food banks around the corner. There are the beautiful houses of the Rosedale enclave, but also a lot of homeless people. There are expensive and fancy cars, but also people who cannot even afford the TTC.

Miller didn’t deal with any of these contradictions. He made them worse by promoting petty projects like bike lanes that were sold as a social revolution, an environmental game-changer. His approach to government has been much like the behaviour of rich socialites who pollute the environment with their SUVs and private planes or sully the lakes in Muskoka with their powerboats and then engage in petty projects such as sending their children to volunteer at the food bank or to some camp in a Third World country for a photo-op to fabricate a social conscience.

Miller’s administration is identified with traffic jams that are fouling the environment; a “special relationship” with the unions and friendly, costly contractors; the garbage strike, which exposed his lack of leadership; waste; tax increases and, most of all, the typical in-your-face attitude of a messiah who thinks he can disregard the opinions of his ignorant subjects.

Read the rest of his column here.

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