The man once described as a "popcorn machine of ideas" by Toronto Star columnist Carol Goar, David Pecaut, envisioned a city "where civic entrepreneurs are everywhere and the process of bringing all the parts of civil society together to solve a problem is really how the city defines its uniqueness."
While Pecaut might not have lived long enough to witness the potential of his visionary words, I believe he would have been proud with the evolution that his adopted city of Toronto is beginning to embrace. I saw our city's potential recently when I attended an event hosted by the TO2015, as it released its first annual progress report on diversity and inclusion for the Pan-American Games.
I was overwhelmed with the preparations for an international sports game now becoming a true movement for public good. I saw Toronto at its best, reflecting its motto, "Diversity is Our Strength."
In less than three years, Toronto will welcome thousands of athletes and the world to our door steps. It is expected to be a "great party with no hangover," as one-time-Ontario Premier, David Peterson, once described. For TO2015's CEO, Ian Troop, the dream and legacy is to "develop an organization that reflects the Greater Golden Horseshoe's diversity in its leadership and promote inclusion."
My visit to their offices in Toronto's distillery district gave me a glimpse of that mission. In one corner of the room were former partisan political aides on opposite spectrums and now employees of TO2015, such as Peter Donolo and Amir Remtulla, working for one common purpose and facilitating mini discussions with the public.
These are two active politicians that are as different as black and white. Peter worked for Jean Chretien's Liberal government and while Remtulla, a noted South Asian former business executive, worked for Mike Harris' Conservatives.
The speakers reflected the bipartisan diversity that I would often witness in public spaces anywhere in Toronto. There were all kinds of faces and races working for a noble goal, a sort of movement of social transformation. It was almost a spiritual experience.
The board, advisory committees, the employees and the supplier database reflects great and rich diversity in people, indeed a unique strength. The "People's Games'" now has 90 employees, 58 per cent of whom are women, compared to the Ontario Labour Force which has 10 per cent fewer women. At this point, 29 per cent are visible minorities, and many are trilingual, conversant in English, French and Spanish, the official languages of the Games.
For a province that is ever increasingly multicultural, according to Citizenship Minister Michael Chan, "Ontario's diversity and commitment to accessibility and inclusion are among our greatest strengths and a huge competitive advantage in the global economy."
I saw the future Toronto in an unexpected place, at its best, and I liked this microcosm of how the city will look. Toronto's champion of harmony and innovation, David Pecaut, would have been as proud I was, since he was instrumental in founding City Summit Alliance, Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council (TRIEC) and Luminato, our own festival of creativity.
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