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Will Rob Ford Learn the Art of Adult Conversation?

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Well, what can you do? Thrilling as the #Fordcourt ride was, we're back to where we started. Ford Nation -- such as it is -- can enjoy its little victory lap.

We can debate, at our leisure, whether conflict-of-interest proceedings and campaign-finance audits are preferable to the electoral process in circumstances such as these. Again, though, those questions have already been addressed by smarter people than me, and right now, they're pretty much academic.

We've got less than two years to put together a constructive, progressive, alternative vision that addresses Team Ford's shortcomings and takes a realistic approach to the things we have to deal with. I really don't care, at this point, who fronts it.

Team Ford ... well, it is what it is. The defections of some of its, er, "brighter lights" may make for momentary drama and passing headlines, but ultimately its small, divisive and simple-minded approach to governance is more important than Mike Del Grande's martyr act, or Norm Kelly's skepticism about climate change, or some numbskull's gibbering about conspiracies.

We can't ignore context, of course. The City of Toronto, like any other municipality, is limited in what it can do by the province. Dalton McGuinty had ten years to undo the damage inflicted on us by the Harris years, but we all know how well that turned out.

Kathleen Wynne's talked some encouraging talk about revenue tools and gridlock and such, but in the short term she'll be more concerned with shoring up her own position than with a realistic and workable approach to dealing with the city. And in the meantime, there's a lot invested in the austerity dogma that continues to be pushed upon us.

Well, whatever. For the moment, there's not much we can do to change the political dynamics at Queen's Park, the manufactured narratives that we're hammered with day after day, or the governing structures whereby the province and the city carry out their functions. What we can do, however, is take a mature and responsible approach to the way we engage with our community and with one another.

So. Back to Toronto Council, and its individual members. They've shown that they can work together to rein in the mayor and the brother, and put forward an alternative agenda, regardless of their individual leanings and ambitions. Now would be a good time to show that they can continue. Over the next 20 months or so, they've got an opportunity to prove it.

How can they do that? By talking like thoughtful, reflective adults. They don't have to agree on everything. They don't have to gather for group hugs. All I ask is that they set aside the slogans, the catchphrases, the childish vindictiveness, and the belligerent, tribal ignorance that's characterized public discourse in Toronto for the last two years.

Honestly. We've got crumbling infrastructure, an overloaded transit system, a growing sense of inequality and disengagement, a dysfunctional and misfiring governance structure, and a chief magistrate who's clearly in over his head and can't be bothered to do anything about it. We need a public discourse that goes beyond the fantasies peddled by casino lobbyists, gravy trains, war on the car, and subways, subways, subways. We can do better than that.

For god's sake, let's have an adult conversation.

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