THE DEMOCRATIC REPORTER
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Toronto Star - Nov. 12, 2009 - By Catherine Porter, email@example.com Columnist - Catherine Porter's column runs on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.
Best man for mayor could be a woman
It's such a great picture, isn't it? Two men, growling at one another across a table. "Honest" Tory throws a T-shirt. "Furious" Smitherman catches it and throws it away.
The strained silence. The tension. The testosterone.
The two faced off at the Newstalk 1010 studio. But it might as well have been the men's locker room. All that was missing were the towels, twisted, wet at one end and thwack aimed at a bare butt to the guffaws and hoots of teammates.
The fight is already on for captain of the city. And it's a man's game again.
Sure, women have run the city. Two to be precise. Out of 63. And since we became a big, bad megacity, women have jockeyed for the job. But go to an all-candidates meeting and you'll see appropriate scarf, awkwardly posed on a stool, she is as exotic as a cockatoo. She's usually dismissed as a pretty bird, too.
Boys are groomed for this. The blood, the gore, the victory. They are coached to grow thick skin. Get up, get back out there, pummel him.
Girls are taught to play with teacups and crayons. We dress them up as fairy princesses and enrol them in ballet. Sure, we're working at breaking those stereotypes. But culture runs deep.
My daughter's favourite book right now is a Berenstain Bears story. It's about Tuffy, a school bully who beats up Sister. When she comes home, pink bow unravelled, Brother charges to the school to get even. When he discovers Tuffy is a girl, he leaves because boys can beat up boys but not girls. Instead, he secretly teaches Sister how to box. You know where this goes a few days later, Tuffy is throwing stones at birds. Sister flattens her. Sister is let off, and Tuffy gets a week's detention and regular visits with the school psychologist. It actually says that.
Boys beat up boys. Girls defend birds.
It's no different at City Hall.
Walk the glass row of councillor offices and you'll find mostly male names on the little blue plaques. Less than a quarter are women, even though you'd think we were made for the job. Multi-tasking. Building consensus. Listening attentively to grumpy drivers and entitled dog walkers. Ribbon cutting. We're trained for those things.
We're not trained for the boxing of a mayoral campaign.
As a woman politician in this city, you go into attack mode like "Furious" George Smitherman and you are labelled the "pit bull with lipstick" (Frances Nunziata). You speak earnestly like "Honest" John Tory, and you are "the valedictorian" (Karen Stintz).
We know what to expect from our male leaders. We haven't figured out what to expect from our female ones. We want them to be men, but to be feminine.
"It will change when a woman can be successful, become mayor and show what a great job women can do in that position," says Jane Pitfield, who ran a losing campaign against Mayor David Miller three years ago.
So, we have two white middle-aged guys jumping into the ring one of whom has lost three times and is back again for battle.
There are whispers about one sister in the carpeted halls of City Hall. Budget chief Shelley Carroll is playing coy and practical. She is "seriously considering" entering the ring "if I have something to say." She wants to wait until she's finished the punishing task at hand the city's budget.
The NDP's Olivia Chow said Wednesday she was still toying with the idea. A former stellar city councillor, she would be a great contestant knowledgeable, passionate, tough and a visible minority to boot.
I hope they both run.
The city could use a woman's touch. Apart from fighting Ottawa for money and vying for international sporting events, city council is in the business of running daycares, old age homes, parks, libraries all "soft" services that women are more likely to value.
If a woman were in charge, female hockey players would get as much ice time at city rinks as men. She could change the rules of engagement. She could make city council pause at 6 p.m., so councillors could make it home for dinner with their kids, before resuming at 8:30 p.m. The racks on buses would hold strollers as well as bikes, and the city's garbage bins wouldn't require a black belt in judo to manoeuvre.
All the gloves haven't been dropped. But the fundraisers of Bay Street say it will be hard for anyone to raise $1.5 million to run for mayor after George and John have had their fill.
When one experienced female politician thinking about running called a leading campaign manager in the city, he told her she didn't have a chance.
She was too small, he said, and she was a woman.
Comments by others, 28, to this web-page;
Nov 12, 2009 6:04 PM
I use to believe this may have been true, but the preformance of the Catholic School Board which is almost completly female has me change my mind.
starcomment Nov 12, 2009 5:45 PM
Don't belive all.
Poltitcians are politicians. Men or Women. Women or Men. All are equal. NONE LIES LESS THAN THE OTHER.
classy1 Nov 12, 2009 3:34 PM
Uncle Peter Nov 12, 2009 2:49 PM
Why do we always have to see in the media comments about things that have absolutely nothing to do with the topic at hand. I'm sure that a woman can foul things up as badly as a man. I'm sure a gay male can send everything down the tubes as well as a straight male. I'm sure a black mayor can be as bad as a white mayor. The point is, who cares? Any one of these descriptions can do a great job as well as a bad one. I just want to here about the candidates or possible candidates capabilities. Could we please drop this stupid and inane muck rakeing and find a competent mayor and, by the way, council. They get elected as well boys and girls and most of what we have now are pretty pathetic.
Ryan2 Nov 12, 2009 1:03 PM
Agree 1 - Disagree 4
larrb Nov 12, 2009 12:03 PM
To be honest...Miller is really not into the Unions as much as all the CON-spinning would indicate- the results in the Garbage strike would not be the same, not nearly so NASTY...if Miller was such a Union clone. And Hazel, lots of good there, but perhaps to keep some perspective- she is not so much UNION as DEVELOPER influnced- hence the looming TRANSIT issues that will affect Mississauga for years to come. Read Jane Jacobs... she states Mississauga is a "poster child" for sprawl, and she outlines her concerns very well in her book Dark Age Ahead... be careful of ABSOLUTE LABELS- they cut TOO many ways to be effective when they attach to very COMPLEX individuals. In fact,they tend to be misleading, unproductive and wasteful.
Agree 3 - Disagree 6
toady Nov 12, 2009 11:37 AM
but Olivia Chow and Shelley Carroll are not among them. Never will be.
Agree 13 - Disagree 2
L.J. Nov 12, 2009 11:30 AM
Gender & race etc of next mayor is immaterial. It's tough to find any mayor with the city's long-term best interests at heart vs. his/her own. What your next mayor will really need is a strong stomach for the stench of dirty city politics, as well as a team of good, honest, smart people. I wish you the best of luck, Toronto. Montreal couldn't do it, neither could Longueuil.
Agree 10 - Disagree 1
Nov 12, 2009 11:20 AM
Agree 18 - Disagree 1
BugsBunny Nov 12, 2009 9:40 AM
When I vote for the next mayor they need to be the opposite of Miller. I want someone standing up for the taxpayers not the unions. This person can be male/female, black/white, I don't care.
Agree 23 - Disagree 5
MJT Nov 12, 2009 9:37 AM
I could easily vote for a woman to be mayor if she holds the reputation of those who haves successfully manage major corporations; that being said, I could never consider any of the 3 names currently being hinted at. MJT, Etobicoke
Agree 18 - Disagree 4
Frances Nunziata Nov 12, 2009 9:37 AM
I live in Frances Nunziata's ward and have the utmost respect for her. She was mayor of York before it amalgamated. She looks out and cares for her constituents. I'd strongly support her if she went in the mayoral race! Enza Anderson may also be running.
Agree 1 - Disagree 17
William Young Nov 12, 2009 9:32 AM
All of the changes that would happen if a woman were in charge? This is not a fair statement. These things might happen if someone capable were in charge. I want the best person for the job, male or female. And to promote Carroll and Chow as positives? Please, isn't this city in enough trouble? And this comment is not due to the fact that they are women, but due to their political leanings and past actions. As for the two female mayors Toronto has had, I am not sure we want to return to the days of Rowlands and Hall. Once again, not because they were women, but because of their ineffectiveness. I voted for Pitfield, she would have been awesome, but not because of her gender but because of what I thought she could do.
Agree 16 - Disagree 2
dittomuch Nov 12, 2009 9:29 AM
Gender is the last concern most voters have. If your telling me that Barbara Hall or Hazel couldn't get elected because they are women history has proven you wrong. Canadians got over the gender bias in politics long ago, statistically women are more likely to vote than me in city elections. Men are not 'bred' for this nor are women being taught not to. If anything the exact opposite is true, women are encouraged throughout the education system to run to try and to work hard.
Agree 15 - Disagree 1
donmcc Nov 12, 2009 9:20 AM
Electing a woman because she is a woman is totally stupid. You elect the person you think is best suited for the job. Gender should not be a factor. (That said, both women mentioned in the story would be good choices ... let's hope they run).
Agree 16 - Disagree 6
VanGrungy Nov 12, 2009 8:53 AM
She's the right woman for the job!...Run for Mayor Sandra...We love you!!!
Agree 1 - Disagree 22
JLKC Nov 12, 2009 8:38 AM
Torontonians missed the boat by re-electing Miller last term and not Jane Pittfield who wanted to cut the union fat at city hall and in all city contracts. Way to go! Chow, may be a bright alternative, at least certainly to Smitherman.
Agree 9 - Disagree 20
Formerresident Nov 12, 2009 8:34 AM
The current NDP politicians including David Miller have a proven dismal track record in this city. Toronto badly needs someone who will make the hard choices to balance the books. Olivia Chow with her NDP background is unlikely to make those hard choices.
Agree 31 - Disagree 4
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