Who knew the broom David Miller famously held aloft in 2003 as a symbol of his mayoral mission, would be made not of sturdy wood but of something much more pliable.
It's an issue that urgently needs addressing, given the mayor's shocking flip-flop June 20 in which he defended support-our-troops decals on emergency vehicles only 24 hours after urging their removal in September.
If Miller can crack so publicly on a symbolic issue like this, what kind of stuff does he bend to in the back rooms?
Why is it that right-wing pols can stick to their unpopular decisions while lefties waver and wobble? Sorry to ask you to do this, but think of Mike Harris, Stephen Harper, George W. Bush, hell, even Mel Lastman with that fire in his belly.
Flawed as their moves were and are, this breed doesn't cave when the going gets rough. Yet Miller is showing evidence of that troubling affliction of left-wingers who doubt their own mandate and become mortally afraid of the heat from power brokers lined up against them.
Sort of like NDP preem Bob Rae, who blinked on long-promised public auto insurance when the industry started to roar.
For a day, the mayor's position was laudable. He admitted to the media that to some the yellow ribbons "are a symbol of support for the war in Afghanistan" and that Emergency Services officials have "received calls from people concerned about the city expressing an opinion on the war."
Then three Canuck soldiers were killed in the Panjwaii Valley near Kandahar, and all bets were off. Which prompts the question, when they first decided to remove the stickers, did Miller and city council think there would be no more deaths in Afghanistan?
But bad timing wasn't the only reason for the mayor's switch-over. Besides the indignation of local right-wingers eager to throw patriotic darts at Miller, there was also the storm of protest from The Rest Of Canada talk radio and editorial pages from Red Deer to Corner Brook.
Miller opted for the most expedient way out. Too bad. If he'd stood his ground, most Torontonians and a majority of Canadians would have proudly stood with him.
As it is, he's shown his constituency on the left that he's not only a wimp, but that he holds them in less than high regard. And those on the right are snickering behind his back.
If local citizens need a way to express not only their growing opposition to the government's handling of the mission (we still can't bring ourselves to call it a war) but also the sense of shared grief whenever a Canadian soldier dies, plastering ambulances and fire trucks with a slogan as loaded as this one isn't the way to do it.
It doesn't even come close to what we need as a symbol of our collective consideration on this issue. And what a shame it all ended this way, because Miller, more than any other pol, is skilled at expressing this kind of nuanced attitude.
As for The Rest Of Canada and its hate-on for Toronto, he could have reminded them in this season of fiscal whining that while it's true Torontonians aren't such a rah-rah group when it comes to foreign military campaigns, the tax dollars used to support our troops come disproportionately from the people who live in this burg.
So even though we don't have the kind of personal relationship with men and women in the Canadian Forces that other regions do, we, too, are doing our part.
Bottom line: we needed our mayor to turn to his hawkish critics and say, "Thank you very much for your comments.
Now kindly piss off."