I spent some time at the Toronto Computer Leasing Inquiry this week and was quickly reminded of why I've long thought David Miller would be a good Mayor for this city.
If not for Mr. Miller, there would be no judicial probing going on right now at the old East York Civic Centre to see why a $43-million technology contract with MFP Financial Services of Mississauga ended up costing taxpayers more than $100-million.
You should have seen the difficulty Mr. Miller had convincing his City Hall colleagues they shouldn't try to sweep the spending scandal under the council chamber rug. One councillor was so incensed with his talk of dirty backroom deals that she launched a lawsuit against him. The legal action was later dropped for lack of anything better to do. This only encouraged another ward rep to try and whip up support for a motion to force Mr. Miller to issue a groveling apology for remarks that supposedly "impugned the integrity" of everyone sitting in that windowed clamshell overlooking Nathan Phillips Square.
"I will sue you for everything you can possibly lay your hands on," Mayor Mel Lastman screeched at Mr. Miller as a preamble to one of his most hilarious utterances ever.
"You will never be mayor of this city," the hyperventilating chief magistrate spat. "This I can tell you right now, because you say stupid and dumb things."
It was Mr. Miller's efforts at City Hall, [Steven Zakem, solicitor of municipal law who had worked briefly with Mr. Miller before he left the firm of Aird and Berlis to run for the old Metro council,] said, that convinced him citizens didn't have to accept the malaise of mediocrity that has enveloped the city much of the past six years. And it was the councillor's ability "to articulate a vision for a magnificent city" that convinced Mr. Zakem that his one-time legal associate had what it takes to be mayor.
"As far as I'm concerned, David Miller's economic views are absolutely consistent with fiscal conservatism," he told me when I talked to him again recently. "I wouldn't be supporting anyone whom I considered a tax-and-spender. He's got common sense of the highest order. We've all seen the damage thoughtless promises of tax freezes can do to a city. We've been paying for them in a big way the past three years."
Mr. Zakem doesn't see the Miller campaign as anything resembling a partisan cause. "If it was it wouldn't be attracting people from right across the political spectrum and from all parts of this city," he said. "This is about commitment and openness and integrity."
And, more than anything else, it's about giving people a renewed sense of excitement in the belief this city can accomplish great things with inspired leadership from City Hall.
Like Steven Zakem, I believe David Miller is the best choice to provide that leadership. I also believe Toronto voters are fortunate to have a choice from five leading candidates who have brought their visions of this city's future to the table.