Friday, December 28, 2007

Mellowing on Mulroney

The festive season has mellowed me. It is time to cut Brian Mulroney some slack.

Consider this: He has accepted responsibility for his dealings with Karlheinz Schreiber.

"I realize I made a serious error in judgment...” "That mistake in judgment was mine alone,” he told the Commons Ethics Committee.

Like Frank Sinatra he has some regrets. He regrets taking cash payments in brown envelopes, regrets stashing them in safety deposit boxes and mostly he regrets knowing Schreiber.

We all make mistakes. And as my MP, Mike Wallace (Burlington) said of Martin Brian Mulroney, 18th Prime Minister of Canada:

“(H)e wasn’t really thinking that well at that particular moment.”

Like Wallace I want to focus on the good this man has done.

The Legacy

There is the Free Trade Agreement, of course, and the Acid Rain Treaty, the Goods and Services Tax, Ben Mulroney, and more.

Significant accomplishments all but it says here there are even positives in his dealings with Schreiber. In time these will be better understood and become part of his splendid legacy.

Take those light armoured peacekeeping vehicles. I’m for peace and so is Brian Mulroney. Along with the two hundred and twenty five thousand dollar bills (or was it three hundred bills?) came a “mandate” to move these vehicles. Not surprisingly Mr. Mulroney took his responsibilities seriously. If Yeltsin and the Russians hadn’t been a little short of cash, is there any doubt that the peacekeeping vehicles would have helped with the “problems” in Chechyna?

We eagerly await more details on that other project the former Prime Minister was assigned by Schreiber so as to further “the international dimension of the mandate.” That would be the anti-obesity pasta project where Mulroney was to seek help from his amigo Bill Gates. Schreiber speculated it could lead to Nobel Peace Prize. Pasta for peace - once again Mulroney on the international stage.

The Point

So what does all this have to do with municipal politics?

American politician Tip O’Neil once said: “All politics is (sic) local politics.”

Mulroney, a most successful practitioner of the second oldest profession knows that. I too, as a recovering local politician should know that.

And yet many years ago at a committee dealing with the Official Plan how could I not have understood? The lobbyist who repeatedly fibbed in response to my questions was kind enough to contact me the next day to say that “I can’t tell the truth in that sort of public forum.” If we could just get together for a beer, he suggested, he could explain.

Silly me. I should have taken the beer. It might have contributed to world peace.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Pinball May Not be Next Mayor of Toronto

For some time the media – the jock media at least – has suggested that Michael “Pinball” Clemons is destined to be the next Mayor of Toronto.

It “ain’t” going to happen.

Pinball, Toronto Argo Coach until yesterday, is the new CEO of the Boatmen. So he is too busy to be mayor, right?

Well that’s part of it. Yesterday on the Fan 590 Prime Time Sports Clemons spoke passionately and sincerely, I believe, about his commitment to the Argo anti-violence campaign. That will be a big part of his new job.

Will he coach again? He wouldn’t rule it out nor would he rule out municipal politics.

In the interview “Pinner” recounted an apparently serious approach to him to run for the top job in last year’s Toronto elections. An influential person was going to help him with his citizenship.


Pinball, Florida native, long-time Argo, is not a Canadian.

Not a problem noted know-it-all talk show host Bob McCown. You don’t need to be a citizen to run for mayor. Pinball now has one less worry.

But hold on McGown is wrong, of course. Section 17 of the Municipal Elections Act (1996) is quite clear. You’ve got to be a Canadian citizen. You must live in the town where you wish to be a candidate as well - another qualification that the gridiron great may lack. (And at the risk of be labelled a wet blanket I'll bet I can find a few people out there who may think that experience in municipal politics is another necessary qualification.)

Here’s hoping Pinball sticks to fighting violence and steering the Argo ship.

And let’s hope McCown sticks to what he does best.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007


Last week’s brouhaha over the province’s mis-management of its program for approving vanity license plates points out that such a job would be best be handled by someone other than government.

If you missed it a retired United Church Minister wanted to replace her nineteen-year-old plates with the exact same plate. “REV JO” was deemed inappropriate by the powers that be as it could incite road rage. Get it. I think I do. Read that plate and you’re sure to put the pedal to the metal i.e., rev(ing) it.

Proposed variations which apparently promoted Christianity were also no-no's.

Incidentally, these plates were given to Rev Jo by a friend as a gift to commemorate her call to the Ministry.

We think it is time to privatize this particular government service. Whenthemayorsmiles is prepared to help out, saving the oppressed taxpayer hard -earned dollars and eliminating this particular costly and clearly ineffective bureaucratic body. Our area of so-called expertise is local politics. We’ll assign the plates from now on. Here goes.

Hazel McCallion, Mississauga Mayor PAVEDIT

Gary Carr, Halton Regional Chair CHAIRSCAR

Rob MacIsaac, Chair, GTTA IM4TOLLS

Jack Dennison, Burlington Councillor TAXMAN

Cameron Jackson, Burlington Mayor TEAMLDR

Sam Merulla, Hamilton Councillor IM4ME

Brian Mulroney, former Prime Minister LIONBRYN
(recently seen in these parts flogging his book)

Rob MacIsaac, former Mayor of Burlington SLOMUNDY*

David Miller, Mayor of Toronto NOMUNDYS

*Given the uprising he faced over the imposition of downtown parking rates on the citizens of Burlington when MacIsaac was that city's mayor your Blogger is certain that his former worship would be more comfortable cruising his hometown with the name of his well known (locally, at least) band than promoting something as heinous as road tolls. After all it could cause road rage.

Never mind. We’ll get back to work now.