#36: Toronto, ON 7/12/16

Oh, baby! It’s Canada Week here at the Chronicles! I hope you packed a passport and your curling uniform, because we’re off to the Toronto city council meeting.

Meeting? Sorry. I meant “endurance test.”

These hardy Maple Leafers hunkered down for T-E-N H-O-U-R-S. And as it turns out, ten hours in Canada converts to ten AMERICAN hours as well. Lucky me.

Speaking of America, Mayor John Tory began by saying goodbye to Toronto’s Philadelphia-bound transportation manager–and good luck. “If there are any circumstances which TRUMP your desire to return home, you’ll always be most welcome here,” he remarked dryly as the room erupted in laughter.

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Oh, yeah? Well…who’s your president? A moose? Ha, burned.

Next came the excruciating process of figuring out a.) who wanted b.) to say what c.) and when on the city budget. (Hint: every. body. wanted. to. talk.)

“On page 10,” Councilor Michael Thompson politely requested, “I’m just wondering, is it possible to have this Thursday morning as a first item–”

Loud grumbles rolled in from councilors who had Thursday morning in their crosshairs.

“There’s also a desire to hold the supervised injection [debate] at that time!” Councilor Joe Mihevc protested.

Council Speaker Frances Nunziata raised a hand. “I’m sorry but Councilor Thompson had his name before yours,” she curtly shut him down. It’s a reminder of that old saying: “the early bird gets the sweet Thursday morning discussion slot.”

It was a minor tiff–but by hour 2.5, tempers really flared.

During routine questioning of the city manager, Councilor James Pasternak casually inquired about sloppy staff recommendations: “What strategies do you have to make sure that shenanigans stops?”

As the city manager defended himself, Councilor Gord Perks perked up.

“Councilor Pasternak just described city staff’s budget process as ‘shenanigans,'” the wavy-haired man complained.  “I ask that he withdraw that.”

“Madam Speaker, Councilor Perks has twisted my words!” protested Pasternak.

The speaker was on his side. “Continue,” she ordered Pasternak. Then she froze. “Councilor Perks is challenging my ruling.” One off-mic councilor hollered what sounded like a profanity. This is amazing–I’m already googling “how to move to Canada.”

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You challenge a Canadian speaker by hip-checking her on the ice rink.

A high-pitched chime pulsed in the chamber–like a creepy kid’s toy–signaling that councilors had to vote on whether to back their fearless leader.

Final tally: 23-9. The speaker wins.

After break to eat lunch and walk off the crankiness, councilors returned to a familiar dilemma: cut services or raise taxes?

“There’s a number of things we do as a city that we don’t have to be doing,” Councilor Giorgio Mammoliti grumbled. “We don’t have to be in the childcare business! Why the hell aren’t we talking about this stuff?!”

Another councilor–ever polite–corrected him. “Heck.”

Mammoliti scowled. “Hell.”

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Others are visibly shocked by Councilor Mammoliti’s language.

It was the bottom of the ninth (hour). The humans were tired but, oddly enough, the machines were even tireder.

As Councilor Thompson spoke, several loud booms rocked the sound system.

Then…dead mic.

“Yeah, I don’t know what’s going on,” the speaker shrugged, not entirely upset at this gentle suggestion by Fate.

“Shut ‘er down!” shouted Councilor Shelley Carroll, chomping to get out of Dodge.

Unluckily for her, the mics rebooted, letting Councilor Thompson inch the meeting across the ten-hour line. Ugh, I’m getting too old for this sh…enanigans.

Final thoughts: Stay tuned! There’s more Canada Coverage on Wednesday and Friday!

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