He was just 18 back in 2003 when NOW named Adam Chaleff-Freudenthaler one of our Ten Teens Taking Over, and, boy, did we call it. No wonder the Ford gang go apoplectic at the sound of his name. The former vice-chair of the Library Board, hyper-vigilant City Hall watcher and forensic sleuth has pulled off a historic two-fer: not only did he trigger the conflict of interest lawsuit that booted Rob Ford, but he also set off a probe by the city's Compliance Audit Committee, which will report in January on whether Ford's alleged $77,722 interest-free loan from Doug Ford Holdings broke campaign spending laws. The big question: where will C-F go next?
Olivia Chow has always been closely associated with Toronto, but never more so than since chatter started in late spring about the NDP MP and widow of former federal NDP leader Jack Layton running for mayor.
Since then, pundits have argued and polls have shown she's the only potential opponent who can topple Rob Ford. We'll see. There's no guarantee she'll run. There's a seat in the front benches of a possible NDP government in Ottawa to think about.
Be that as it may, Chow's prominence on the local scene is well earned. Her roots here run deep, and her good works on behalf of the city are now being appreciated outside her downtown core constituency. She's emerged as the strongest voice for Toronto in Ottawa, fighting for a National Transit Strategy and federal money for infrastructure.
Whatever her future holds, chances are it won't only be spent working behind the scenes to ensure her late husband's legacy. Too late for that.
What you have to endure to be an ombudsman these days. When T.O.'s Fiona Crean issued her radioactive report in September accusing the mayor's office of meddling with the selection of civilians to city boards and agencies (circulating a vote-for list, diddling with deadlines and trying to remove diversity requirements from ads), council's right had a bird. She's the appointed watchdog, isn't she? No matter; they went to town charging she was doing favours for the left. But like the soldier she is, Crean held her ground during a five-hour council grilling and a nasty bid to deny her a renewed contract. In the face of that self-serving indignation, the small-framed woman with the short grey hair kept her cool - and her dignity. "Just doing my job," was what she said.
It sure seemed odd at the time, the police nabbing of Forest Hill security geek Byron Sonne on explosives charges and inciting to disrupt just days before the G20 in June 2010. The respected computer hacker, who spent 11 months in the slammer, became the poster boy for police paranoia as prosecutors revved fears he was constructing a bomb to blast the global talkfest. Sadly for them, reality intervened. In May 2012, Sonne, who - wouldn't you know - is a model rocket hobbyist (hence the chemicals), was cleared of all charges. Thus the world learned what many had suspected: Sonne was merely an anti-authority activist worried about civil liberties. Like just about everyone else.
It was whispered of Karen Stintz, before she orchestrated that coup de grâce that killed Rob Ford's subway and revived Transit City, that she was too lightweight to be mayor.
Yes. There was her curious allegiance to the ragtag bunch of right-wingers known as the Responsible Government Group during Miller's last term. And those public speaking lessons on the taxpayers' dime stuck out on her resumé.
But instead of quietly toeing the line, as she was expected to do when she was handed the toughest file in the city - chair of the TTC - Stintz stepped up. She rallied council's left, right and centre when she saw the preposterousness of Ford's Sheppard subway plan.
Stintz has never been a pushover, to be sure. But she didn't have to play David to Ford's Goliath, and did so at great political risk. Her plan wasn't to stick around the municipal field too long, but all that may have changed. Her name is among the front-runners to depose Ford - if not in a by-election, then in 2014.
Some might say Stintz was motivated by ambition. It sometimes takes courage to be ambitious.
Farewell to Premier Dad. To compound his minority woes, prim family guy Dalton McGuinty lost his rep for clean living to a never-ending Ornge scandal and charges of cynical vote-mongering over the multi-million-dollar cancellation of a gas plants. Then he blew the crucial Kitchener-Waterloo by-election, leaving himself one vote shy of solving his minority problem. His downward trajectory bottomed out when the preem, who built his brand as an education promoter, picked a major fight with teachers unions. Really, there was only one thing left to do, and McGuinty did it: cut and run.
Under normal circumstances, police Chief Bill Blair would be a winner. But this hasn't been a normal year for T.O.'s top cop.
When the heat was on, as in the wake of the Eaton Centre shooting, Blair played politics when he wasn't outright misleading the public.
Little did we know then that the Eaton Centre shocker was part of something even scarier - the inevitable spillover from the way we police priority neighbourhoods. See the Toronto Anti-Violence Intervention Strategy (TAVIS).
Then the Danzig Street shooting happened, and although there was no denying the city has a gun violence problem any longer, he continued to.
The backwash from the G20 mess rounds out the dismal picture. Yes, Blair took "full responsibility" for that. At least he said those words after OIPRD's scathing report. But under his watch, cops who should have been punished for beating protesters got off.
The goodwill hw built up during the Miller years for his impressive crime-fighting efforts has now been used up.
Photo by Cheol Joon Baek
The former attorney general and Liberal rising star is slowly making his way back into public life, more recently, penning a piece for iPolitics.ca on the Newtown tragedy and how Canada is headed in the wrong direction when it comes to gun control.
The albatross of his deadly 2009 encounter with bike courier Darcy Allan Sheppard on the Mink Mile in Yorkville still hangs uncomfortably around his neck.
His attempt to right the record in his book, 28 Seconds, an honest if not totally convincing expression of his supposed newfound humility in the wake of that incident, proved more self-serving than revealing.
The book tour and interviews that followed (with Bryant-friendly media only, it should be noted) were part of a carefully crafted PR effort designed to lay the groundwork for a possible political comeback.
Let's agree Bryant is entitled to a life. But as Sheppard's father wrote in these pages, "Bryant oversteps the bounds of decency, respect (and self-respect) in claiming he had no agency in what happened."
Indeed, rather than clearing the air, the book leaves you wondering.
Bryant isn't the victim he made himself out to be.
What's the line between borrowing a formulation here and there and plagiarism? The answer was blowing in the wind this year when it came to light via journalistic accountability blogger Carol Wainio that Globe and Mail ideological attack dog Margaret Wente used what we could delicately call "unattributed material" in a column. The Globe, evidently completely oblivious to the transparency revolution and the clout of social media, kept a hideous three-day silence. The paper's public editor eventually offered up a dopey response, and in the end the editor in chief was forced to admit Wente's work did not meet Globe standards. What did we learn? The Globe thinks it's still 1985.
And so begins the rehabilitation of Rob Ford.
A few weeks after a judge's order on conflict of interest charges pushed the eject button on his reign of error, Mayor Ford, fresh from a Florida vacation and reportedly looking tanned and relaxed, was stuffing Christmas hampers in Scarborough.
Time to turn the page. Start over. Give the guy a chance to redeem himself. Even the usually critical Star has taken a curiously positive turn of late.
The Ford = Everyman canard has legs, it seems, despite a raft of integrity issues and ethical sins. He still has enough friends among opinion-makers whose success is heavily vested in his. The rest remain wilfully blind to the rot his dumbed-down brand of politics has visited on our city.
Council has done some great things in his absence - proved in fact that the city can manage without him just fine.
How much better it would be if we were rid of his negative energy.
Alas, Ford's allies on council have taken up his cause with renewed energy, urging council to forgo a by-election and reappoint him should his appeal of his conflict of interest conviction be denied.
With Ford, nothing succeeds like failure. If that's true, we're all losers for continuing to tolerate his shabbiness.
Photo by Cheol Joon Baek