Skip to content

Guardian Cities: Old White Guy for Mayor in Toronto

If I entered Toronto’s heated mayoral race, I would pledge to ban the United Colors of Benetton from the city. While I have no objection to the company’s shirts, coats or knitwear, their advertising, with its image of glossy diversity, must feed the insecurity Toronto feels about its own. As a white male (albeit a non-Canadian one), I bet I’d even do quite well in the election, given the stultifyingly un-diverse leaders that this city of immigrants – its population is 48.6% foreign-born – always seems to vote in as mayor.

Toronto will almost certainly do the same again today, when the third most multicultural city on the planet (after Luxembourg City and Dubai) will likely vote to replace the white, middle-aged, disgraced Rob Ford with the white, middle-aged, as-yet-undisgraced John Tory. It’s not for lack of options: a reasonably varied range of candidates have entered the running. And although many urbanites I spoke to declared an intention to vote for the Chinese-Canadian Olivia Chow – widow of leftwing icon Jack Layton and lately the subject of some racially charged abuse – they also admit to having little confidence in her ability to do the job.

So Tory it probably is for Toronto, a city that proclaims itself the zenith of multiculturalism. It’s a concept that has come to represent the city more than anything else – more, even, than the similar-vintage CN Tower, which for 34 years stood unchallenged as the world’s tallest freestanding structure. “Multiculturalism!” exclaimed Jan Morris in a 1984 essay. “I had never heard the word before, but I was certain to hear it again, for it turned out to be the key word, so to speak, to contemporary Toronto.” It was a city, she wrote, that ostensibly offered “all things to all ethnicities”.

Read the whole thing at the Guardian.

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *