December 13, 2009
I get up every morning determined to both change the world and to have one hell of a good time. Sometimes this makes planning the day difficult. E.B. White The older I get, the more driven I am to contribute to the world around me, to make a difference, to “change the world and to have one hell of a good time.” I don’t understand why people fear change – I’ve found it to be the only constant that I can rely on. To know that change can, and will, always happen gives me hope when times are tough, and makes me realize that my actions make the world a better place and effort will have an actual impact on the bigger picture. With the current Mayor of Toronto announcing that he will not be running for re-election, the door has opened to a flood of possible candidates. I tend to appreciate the candidates who first find out what the voters are concerned about, and take the time to listen, instead of trying to manufacture issues to suit their agendas; and it is often those more interested in being first out of the gates who fail because they never truly listen. I have a great love for Toronto. I was born here, my parents were born here, and I have had a great life here. Toronto is a safe place, made up of wonderful communities, beautiful parks, amazing cultural events, and the friendliest people in the world. I believe I have a huge debt to pay back to this city for the opportunity to raise my children in such a safe and culturally rich environment. But I, like so many others, am frustrated with the lack of strong leadership in this city – so I am determined to do something about it. The first step is to listen and learn. I have asked as many people as I could find (leaders in business, the arts, and education, and some fantastic people who reside in this beautiful city) what they think are the primary challenges facing Toronto and what could be done to overcome these obstacles so that we can determine what strengths the next Mayor will need. What I learned is that the next Mayor of Toronto will be saddled with a huge debt ($3.3 billion) and she will have to find ways to not only reduce it but to sustain the economy. To accomplish this, she will need to have a strong sense of what it takes to be fiscally responsible. She will need to listen, to seek advice, and be strong and proactive in designing a strategy for cutting expenses and creating more efficient government departments. The next Mayor of Toronto will need to push hard to improve relationships with both the federal and provincial levels of government. She will need to find real incentives to attract business to this city. And, above all, she will need to be determined, inspiring, and open-minded. The next Mayor needs to have a strong moral compass in order to take the lead in creating a productive, efficient, and motivated work environment for the city. Perhaps now is not the time for a career politician with a business-as-usual attitude. Perhaps now is the time for true leadership and vision. These are just a sampling of the major issues that the next Mayor of Toronto will have to grapple with while, at the same time, protecting the interests of all those living and working in this city. I believe the passion to inspire is what the next Mayor of Toronto must have to make our city a better place to work and live. I wonder if such a person would ever love this city enough to take on this enormous challenge…I love Toronto.