Solid Waste & Recycling


The Ford Factor

Sept 1, 2010
Hello again, Back For My Second “BLOG”…
I am going to talk over the next while about the interaction between the ENVIRONMENT, POLITICS AND THE MEDIA. These three things influenced my 15 year journey in waste management and are the subject of my book,TRASHED!
A key thing throughout TRASHED is how events and changes in life, and indeed the world, relate directly to PEOPLE. There is an interesting political dynamic taking place in the City or Toronto with the race for Mayor of Canada’s largest city and there’s a specific person who may be creating change.
The latest poll this weekend was interesting.
The REBEL (my words) is a councillor named ROB FORD, who is leading the other main candidate, George Smithermen, by 11 points. Shocking! Smitherman has his roots in the Provincial Liberal Party (he resigned from McGuinty’s Cabinet to run for Mayor). The establishment (read the NDP, Liberals, and most others in downtown Toronto including the majority of the media) are horrified at the thought of Ford winning.
Rob Ford is the guy who has consistently refused to spend his available council budget to promote himself while demanding that the City get its financial house in order. Rob Ford, the football coach, was wrongly accused of accosting a player and has managed to duck the issue of a DUI charge in Florida. Yes, it is that Rob Ford but he has withstood all the barrages (so far) and continues to lead the polls. This is a race to watch, with some interesting political implications.
It is interesting for one of my big three topics – THE ENVIRONMENT. That same poll asked supporters of the two candidates to identify the key issues that were of concern for Toronto. Taxes, wasteful government spending and transit lead the list. For the past two terms David Miller, the outgoing Mayor, has bragged that his objective was to make Toronto “The Greenest City in North America”, and he has spent millions of taxpayers’ dollars trying to do it.
But this poll was a reality check! For the Ford supporters, the environment ranked, are you ready for this – a big fat ZERO as an issue. For the Smithermen supporters it was only a mere ONE PERCENT! Bike lanes just aren’t doing it politically! A point to ponder. In my view, the garbage strike last summer showed that the entitlement and concessions which Miller and Toronto council gave to the unions is creating a backlash.
Realistic financial decisions are now at the forefront of people’s concerns, not the pie-in-the-sky promises regarding wish lists to make the City “green” and give-a-ways to the unions. Time will tell, (the election is in November) if “Rebel Rob” is onto something. It is well known that when times are tough economically, the environment starts to take a back seat to other more practical financial expenditures.
I think we are in for a long haul before our economy returns to pre-2008 levels, and politicians relying on environmental issues to get elected will get a “wakeup call” if Mr. Ford wins. If the poll is true, the expenditures on environmental priorities may take a hit in 2010 and beyond. And, I would expect, it won’t be just in Toronto, but in municipalities and other levels of government across Canada and North American.
TRASHED! How Political Garbage Made the United States Canada’s Largest Dump

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