12.27.2013 05:04 PM

Disaster politics

And the great Christmas 2013 blackout continues.

As you guys know, I am kind of obsessed with the confluence of disasters and politics. Of such things are political careers made and unmade, I like to say.

Deputy Toronto Mayor Norm Kelly undid his when he decided to jet off to Florida, mid-calamity. Doesn’t matter what the reason was: he is now forever marked by that quick trip.

Mayor Crackhead hasn’t been hurt by any of it, conversely, because he’s stuck around. It’s the Giuliani Effect™, you might say: you can be saying and doing precisely nothing substantive, but if you’re on the news every day, offering soothing platitudes, it can’t hurt. Ford also benefits from rather low expectations: when you’re a crack-smoking, drunk-driving lying sack of garbage, you can only go up, you know?

Kathleen Wynne? Jury is still out. Nobody does emote better. But, as folks start to get angrier, will they get angry at her? Hard to say.

Meanwhile, tens of thousands of people have been in the cold and dark for a week, now. There’s going to be Hell to pay, by the time this thing is done.

What’s your take?


  1. Michael S says:

    It might be best to let the municipal elections happen before the provincial, just because.

  2. gerry merchant says:

    All I know is this thing called Toronto has me acting like a 14 year old suffering from generic apathy. Somebody, smack me.

  3. smelter rat says:

    It’s not like Kelly was going to be able to hook anyone’s power up, but you’re right, the optics are terrible.

  4. Brad says:

    I don’t find Kathleen all that impressive. That ad of her running down the road seems a bit elitist.

    Glad she had the time foe that, I don’t.

  5. Bill Templeman says:

    Warren, it is all in the numbers. Those 35,000 with power across Ontario might be mad as hell and ready to storm the Bastille, but they are only 35k. The rest of us are worried more about our credit card bills and our waistlines after over-indulging in both courts. This won’t be an election issue because not enough people were hurting. It is like the school closure issue. Schools across Ontario are being unfairly closed by local boards with the aid of the Ministry of Education. Pockets of parents and school supporters are mad as hell and ready to draw blood in places like Peterborough, Kingston, Hamilton, Sudbury and so on. But we are small, isolated pockets. We can be ignored. And we have been.

  6. Matt says:

    He did originally.

    Doug Holyday was deputy mayor until he ran for and won a seat in the Ontario legislature a few months ago.

    After that, and with all the crap surrounding Ford his options were severly limited to choose a new deputy mayor. Kelly still shared Ford’s fiscal agenda, so he got the position.

    I do find it odd that pretty much every other councillor, especially all the Ford haters like Vaughan, Carroll, Davis, Fletcher ect have been invisible during all this.

  7. palmerston says:

    It’s the secretiveness surrounding Norm Kelly leaving town and the obvious belief of some on council in their own clever ability to purposefully deceive Torontonians.

    Some councillors were actually tweeting at the time Kelly was in Florida that they were taking direction from him but didn’t mention he was out of the country! because they were too busy actively and still are laying the foundation to crucify Ford over not proclaiming Toronto to be in a State of Emergency.

    If Rob Ford did this? omfg. Turns out the self proclaimed righteous and mighty on council are bottom feeders after all and for this insight I am truly grateful.

  8. Matt says:

    Or did you mean why did Ford appoint someone better than himself to be deputy mayor?

  9. Sean says:

    As a government employee, my biggest gripe is actually with Emergency Management Ontario and the legislation enabling this oddball quasi ministry. Totally absent from this bureaucratic mess is any “judgement” or “analysis”. Ontarians regularly foot the bill for outside consultants whose default contribution is that everything is fine no matter what happens. As a result, disaster management / preparedness has become a fad which is dying and is almost dead in this country and deservedly so.

  10. Ridiculosity says:

    Someone needs to be called to task for the half-assed disaster management attempt:

    • Ford encourages people to donate food to the “Warming Centres”. Food those centres later said they did not need.

    • Our municipal and provincial governments, as well as Hydro, encourage folks to visit their websites for updates. Hard to do when you don’t have electricity and your mobile has run out of juice. So people are left in the dark both physically and emotionally. That adds to the panic.

    • Lack of community outreach. Lots of folks have this week off. With a little creativity and initiative, volunteer “work gangs” could have been organized to cut up fallen limbs and get them off the streets so Hydro would have had faster, easier access to the lines they needed to repair.

    • Remember Katrina? The people who live next door haven’t had power since the storm. They’re seniors and he has a pacemaker. We have a very “social” street and we’ve been checking on them daily, offering them beds, running extension cords from our home to theirs so they could at least use portable heaters, etc. Lots of neighbourhoods aren’t as tight as ours. They could have been human popsicles by now. Why don’t we have “Street Captains”? One person on each street who is responsible for reporting back to HQ? Would save a lot of time for the police and fire department (who could be doing things like helping to remove fallen limbs, etc.), instead of knocking on random doors.

    • Salt depots. Given that you couldn’t find a bag of de-icing salt in the city in the immediate aftermath, the city could have dropped off a bunch at various locations throughout the city and invited residents to get what they needed there. Fewer slips, falls and car accidents would have saved our provincial health care system significant dollars and saved residents considerably more grief.

    And the BIG question of the day??

    If a CITY-owned tree falls on HYDRO-owned wires and then damages the mast on a house, WHY does the HOMEOWNER have to pony up somewhere between $1000 and $2000 to have it fixed BEFORE their power can be restored???

    Norm Kelly should be sent to his room (permanently) for flying off to Florida in the middle of a catastrophe.

    Rob Ford should be sent to the dog house (permanently) for electioneering and handing out campaign fridge magnets in the middle of a disaster.

    Kathleen Wynne should be congratulated for being the only one – other than the CEO of Hydro – to actually show leadership through this entire debacle. She was the one who came closest to being Giuliani this week.

    • Ottawa Civil servant says:

      Oh so close. I as enjoying every point, including the creative, simple acts to ameliorate the situation.
      Then you gave a kudos to a woman whose hands are all over the Hydro file and whose government has done NOTHING. Why would you do that?
      The province needed to wade into this on day 1, delivering everything it could to help in any way it could. It might as well be visiting Florida, for all the help it proided.

    • Ken in Toronto says:

      And the BIG question of the day??

      If a CITY-owned tree falls on HYDRO-owned wires and then damages the mast on a house, WHY does the HOMEOWNER have to pony up somewhere between $1000 and $2000 to have it fixed BEFORE their power can be restored???

      Because the homeowner is responsible for the installation and upkeep of the hydro stack.

      This is where home insurance usually kicks in – you make the claim to insurance, they in turn claim against the city. if you don’t have insurance, you can still make a claim to the city.

      I would also respectfully suggest that every homeowner should be able to temporarily pony up a grand or two to cope with such emergencies… it’s part of the responsibilities of home ownership.

  11. Elisabeth Lindsay says:

    The comparison with Calgary flood disaster is amazing, and shows a lot of the big difference between the West and the East. Or as you call it there – Central Canada.

    The East seems to depend on Gov`t to give them direction, where in the West, we have long since learned to do it ourselves.

    We have learned that, I think, from the people that settled this part of the country, and from being totally ignored and able to do our own thing for so long.

    • Justin says:

      Awwww shucks. Couldn’t leave without a little regional divisiveness. Btw what was with all those Albertans on the CBC who were looking for flood compensation? Doesn’t sound like self reliance to me.

  12. Ottawa Civil servant says:

    Calgary also had a 3 month old, spotless disaster recovery facility that was wisely built by a previous town council and mayor.
    Calgary has privatized everything under the sun, in order to avoid garbage and transit strikes.
    Calgary has a wind-powered light rail — for decades.

    Difference between Calgary and TO: Through boom and bust, Calgary plans for the future. Toronto can’t bury a power line without a left-right war.

    • Elisabeth Lindsay says:

      Thank you so much for this, Ottawa Civil Servant. Much appreciated!

      Also, have to point out that, that decades old wind-powered light rail is FREE in the downtown area.

      Yup – all in that “red-neck neo-con” city.

      Who knew? 🙂

      • Ken in Toronto says:

        Calgary is pretty awesome, sure.

        But it kind of helps that Calgary is the business center of a booming resource industry, and it’s not the lightning rod for federal and provincial hate campaigns as Toronto has been for decades. Maybe if we started offshore drilling in Lake Ontario…

  13. Ken in Toronto says:

    The Great Christmas freeze-out was a timely opportunity for Mayor Ford to step into the role he was born for (and that I believe the role he most cherishes) – city mascot.

    He was a natural in all those on-camera opportunities – “Be patient folks. Check on your loved ones. Go to a warming center. Don’t bbq indoors. Only you can prevent forest fires” and so on. And of course selling autographed bobble-heads of himself for charity.

    The pièce de résistance would be for him to adopt an animal persona, and a plush suit to match. Robbie the Civic Hippo, anyone?

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