Tossed out of Queen’s Park, Liberals plan to crush progressive hope at city hall

July 10, 2018 — Their party having just been defeated at Queen’s Park, it seems several former Liberals MPPs or candidates are seeking to bring their special brand of cynicism to Toronto city hall – and hoping to defeat some key progressive candidates to do it.

After four years on the Ford Mayoralty crazy train, John Tory’s last four years has been an improvement in relative terms. But in absolute terms, it’s been about settling for a lot less than hoped for.

There is a decent-sized progressive opposition at city council — and it needs to grow because council’s cynical faction is big enough to push through John Tory’s preferences, no matter how ill thought-out. We’ve seen that on SmartTrack, the East Gardiner and council vacancy skullduggery.

Boosting city council’s cynicism quotient by adding some Queen’s Park Liberals is the exact opposite of what Toronto needs.

Yet, barely one month after voters rendered a massive moral verdict on them, several Ontario Liberals are looking to get back on the power grid.

George Smitherman – the central actor in both the eHealth scandal and in the privatization and betrayal of green energy – seems to be the tip of the spear. He’s planning a council run in Ward 23, which includes Cabbagetown and Regent Park. His brand is so blemished even the Wynne Liberals turned him down when he wanted to be their candidate for the 2018 election.

Rumours are afloat that Han Dong, the former Liberal MPP in Trinity-Spadina, is considering a run. And in true Liberal style, it seems Dong will try to pick off a proven progressive voice, Ausma Malik, in Ward 20, which is below Queen, just west of the downtown core.

Deanne Sgro is another Wynne Liberal rumoured to be looking to defeat a progressive, Anthony Perruzza, councillor for Ward 8, which includes Northwood Park and Jane and Finch neighbourhoods. A lawyer, Sgro was disciplined by the Law Society of Ontario, which found her staff engaged in “misleading, harassing, and threatening” behavior in her debt collection business. Perfect fit!

Peter Milczyn is another Liberal who may be on the move, looking for election in Ward 5, which lies between Bloor and the QEW in Etobicoke. Milczyn would likely align with team Tory – when campaigning for city council in 2003, Milczyn backed Tory over the eventual winner, David Miller.

Remember, Liberals know how to talk like progressives, but their purpose is to stop progressives from winning. We saw that in the last provincial election. First Kathleen Wynne tried to outflank Horwath on the left. When that failed, Wynne swung right, refusing to say who she’d support in a minority and driving votes to Ford with wild accusations about the NDP.

What’s needed at city council now are more hopeful, progressive councillors. None of these Liberals are going to bring a progressive agenda, fix dysfunction or hold John Tory to public account.

Their cynical style is now nearly vanquished from Queen’s Park. It would be a terrible setback if Liberals now creep back into city hall at progressive expense.

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