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.
â€œI’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,â€ (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.