Schoolyard bully kicked Miller out of shame

In a media scrum yesterday after David Miller announced he would not seek a third term as Toronto’s mayor, Adam Vaughan talked about the “kick me” sign politicians agree to wear while in office in the context of why calling it quits after seven years is an honourable decision. To take that analogy a bit further, whether out of human decency or a social contract of sorts, the press corps at City Hall kicks often but almost always above the metaphorical belt line. However, in her column today, Sue-Ann Levy went straight for the family jewels by calling Miller a coward for telling the city he wanted to spend more time with his wife and children.

Though anyone who has watched Levy and Miller spar during media and social events knows the two genuinely dislike one another, the same could be said of Miller and Denzil Minnan-Wong. Yet even Minnan-Wong acted with grace in acknowledging the familial sacrifices that Miller has made for Toronto.

Agree or disagree with Miller on substantive issues, Levy couldn’t have been less classy than she was in calling Miller a coward for voicing his desire to spend more time with his family after six years in the mayor’s office and 15 consecutive years in politics. However, the gross hypocrisy in this is that Levy was quoted in the National Post about the toll politics can take on family following her recent foray into politics, even when, in her case, there are no children involved and her political career had lasted all of seven weeks.

“I’ve got to sleep off the last 35 days and give some attention to my new wife and our two miniature dachshunds and go back to the Sun, and we will what happens in the future,” (Levy) said, when asked about rumours she is considering running in the next municipal election.

Though my first reaction to Levy’s column was compassion for Miller and his family, I also couldn’t ignore the irony of Levy being the one to call Miller a coward. After all, Levy just ran a genuinely pathetic election campaign in the St. Paul’s by-election, an election in which she got even less approval from voters than Miller did in a poll on his popularity taken just after the civic workers’ strike.

Levy’s entire campaign was premised on the most cowardly of political strategies: rip down the other guy (mostly on HST) and never tell people what you would do. At least in most cases candidates promise to reverse the decision they don’t like but given many opportunities to say she would do just that if the HST came to pass and there were a PC government elected in 2011, Levy wouldn’t even stand up for that.

The rather sad conclusion I’ve come to is that in calling Miller a coward, Levy was showcasing the simplistic psychology of a schoolyard bully. Levy tried to resolve her shame — that in her own political career she cowered and lost when she could have articulated a vision — by kicking Miller in the most sensitive spot she could because, love it or hate it, Miller has always placed a comprehensive vision for Toronto before the electorate and repeatedly got himself elected that way.


  1. I never thought my respect for Sue Anne Levy could get any lower… her twitter comments and this morning’s columns are some of her most insensitive remarks she’s every written.

    In her usual elegant prose prose, Levy twittered yesterday:

    “David Miller says his family made him quit municipal politics. Yes, his CUPE family, that is.”

    If you’ve seen images of the press conference, you can clearly see Levy standing directly next to Miller’s family and his sobbing son.

    This morning, Levy continued to take the high road in her Toronto Sun column, claiming that Miller took the “coward’s way out.” Funny, coming from a columnist who constantly lambasts Miller for his stubbornness and firm use of the Mayor’s executive power. One day Miller is an overpowering dictator and the next he’s a tortoise running away from a fight.

    Good riddance, Levy. Enjoy your remaining fourteen months as a columnist for a tabloid rag. Oh, and cheerleading tryouts open for Mayor Tory in November 2010.

  2. Yes, we have a lot of small people in politics. Next.

    Isn’t this magazine about public space?

  3. The problem I have with David Millers, is that he is like a person inviting you out to a wonderful meal, then he skips out out on the cheque.

    After the LTT, VRT, emptying the reserves and begging the province for more and more, the city finds itself half a billion dollars short for next year. This despite the city having revenues that do not shrink with the economy. He list of accomplishments have not been paid for.

  4. Levy is so small-minded… and has demonstrated this repeatedly. But quite frankly, Mayor Miller is also as he has demonstrated repeatedly. Time and again, important memos sent out from his office only seemed to reach the Councillors he felt supported him. (The $200m “error” regarding sick bank liabilities… which some in the inner circle seemed to be aware of back in March… is only the latest example.) As much as I don’t agree with much of Council’s so-called “right wing”, they are elected officials. When the Mayor persists in exclusionary tactics with respect to what should be basic information for all, I’d say he to a great degree is responsible for the fractured and divisive Council that we have. It may be uncharitable to point this out just the day after he announced he will not be running as Mayor in 2010… but I don’t think it is an unfair comment to make.

  5. People know that this is how Levy operates, and that’s why she was defeated by thousands of votes in St Paul’s, despite the Liberals’ taxes and spending scandals.

  6. jamesmallon is right. Although the article is accurate, this is hardly the appropriate space for the subject. Try the Torontoist next door?

  7. We’ve been covering city politics from many angles since we started this outfit 6 years ago. Our definition of public space includes all of city hall.

  8. Public forum = public space.

    And while it may seem like an odd choice to weigh in on the discussion about a substandard professional, I think Levy should be called out by articulate (and better) journalists. That’s how checks and balances are formed. The derisive qualities of a posthumous smear campaign have made it past her dozy editors, and it’s up to the rest of her profession to call her on the (albeit obvious) hypocrisy.

  9. I think suggesting that Levy feels any shame for the way she ran her campaign, or any shame at all really, is giving her too much credit.

  10. while this appears to be a story about politics and not directly about public space, we all know that the two are connected.

    who decides about public spaces, if not the politicians (even though we put them in office) ?

    when have we not bashed/praised different politicians for their stand on the issues that affect the city is built or shaped ?

    did we not ridicule Miller and Baird for their comments on the LRT funding ?

    did we not argue with/against councilars about things like bike lanes, bus shelters, etc. ?

    politics and public spaces are NOT seperate issues, but one. this is the right place for the story and the comments.

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