Hockey ticket scandals helped destroy the credibility of Toronto's last mayor, and judging by the crowd gathered at the new one's victory party, legions of curlers have overrun City Hall to elect David Miller. Bambu by the Lake was bursting with a crowd waving brooms Monday night, November 10, and the big man himself held one over his head in both hands in a victory dance, like a wrestler grasping an opponent before tossing him to the mat.
"Finally, we get to win something," mutters a partier in a progressive crowd more used to making the most of "moral victories" than actually taking home the top prize. Miller's party is jammed with the broad mix of funky to fogey that his big vote reflects. As we celebrate by the lake, the water reflects a full moon through the club windows, passing cars honk victory toots from the street, and it's easy to be optimistic about what the future holds for Toronto.
But a strange crush of police - traffic and beat cops on the road between the club and an adjacent hotel that receives an overflow crowd of revellers - reminds us how big the stakes are. Police cabin cruisers float in the lake like an army flotilla just west of the club as an imminent confrontation looms over the Island Airport bridge just blocks away that Miller campaigned to stop.
When the crowd breaks into chants of "Stop the bridge. Stop the bridge," Miller lowers his gaze and whispers, "We will, we will."
Earlier in the evening, at Barbara Hall's campaign bash at the York on Eglinton, a lobby free of people is packed with five different-coloured election signs and matching multicoloured balloons, suggesting the disarray and lack of focus that led to her crushing defeat. Inside, a roomful of people look like they've been kicked in the collective gut.
"I'm never working in electoral politics again," says one Hallite who saw months of hope and confidence disappear in horrific free-fall. The over-lit room features a giant screen blasting disastrous election results to a hangdog crowd that quietly picks through tuna and egg salad sandwiches.
"At least I've got a job," someone mutters. "A lot of people here were hoping to get one after this election. That's not going to happen," she adds unnecessarily.
Hall's crowd struggles to be a little cheerier when she graciously speaks of her opponents and looks forward to beach time with her beleaguered Max. But Hall is a little feisty by the time her concession speech plays out. A "you'd better watch out" tone emerges as she jabs at the air and tears up at the night's events and the job ahead.
There's disappointment but no despair at the John Tory party up the street at the Capitol Event Theatre. A big sign on the marquee outside declares, "Thanks, Toronto," and guests are required to wear name tags, most announcing their British ancestry in a room packed with more white shirts and suits than a boatload of barristers. None of these people were looking for jobs, just maybe lucrative contracts if their boy had won.
Taking Care Of Business is the first song to boom through the speakers as the silent TV screens continue to tell the bad news.
BTO's song will never sound the same after I watch the contented crowd merrily bop along, confident they'll still find a way to call the shots despite this hiccup of a setback. Yeah, they'll be "taking care of business" - and you'll be working overtime.
Back at the Bambu, Miller takes the stage to celebrate after pushing through the crowd to blasts of Bruce Springsteen's Badlands.
When he dives back into the crowd after a careful victory speech full of hope and inclusion, he's boogying to BTO, too. This time the Winnipeg boys are blaring You Ain't Seen Nothin Yet, and the man who came out of nowhere seems confident in his ability to deliver.