That weren't no DJ, that was hazy cosmic jive

Soul-swapping cities?

Here in the Twilight Zone, it seems that Calgary has elected a young, Muslim, centre-left, Facebook-savvy immigrant’s son as its new mayor, while Toronto leans heavily towards electing a right-wing, red-faced, “crass, hot-tempered straight-talker” pulpit-bully for its mayor. As Marvin Gaye once asked through the medium of song: What’s goin’ on?

Who frankly knows, but I’ve got a couple of thoughts. One concerns demographics. Calgary’s decade-old boom has meant a burgeoning metamorphosis, and a flooding of new labour from small-l liberal regions including the west coast and Ontario. The idea that sustained and significant growth in Calgary’s population would mean a growth in the number of conservative voters was always based in a premise that there’s something in Calgary’s water that makes people fall into the right-wing. But no, Calgary’s new arrivals seem to be capable of retaining their very “non-Albertan” approach to politics, and it’s evidenced in part by Naheed Nenshi’s victory.

Similarly, I suppose suburban T-Dot is inhabited by a goodly number of cautious middle-agers who have drifted lazily into conservatism, lockstep with their rising insecurity over mortgages.

My other thought is that this is not a picture of right-wing or left-wing trends in either city, but a shared anti-incumbency in both. Disestablishmentarianism isn’t just a fun word to say – it’s an anarchic condition that can rise up from the doldrums at scarcely a moment’s notice. To advantage from disestablishmentarianist (fun!) mood, all you really need is bang-on charisma and an exceptionally well-run campaign – the left vs right elements of the campaign become less important than the watertight message for “change.”

Surely someone out there is going to describe Nenshi’s Calgary win as an “Obama-esque” triumph, which is, I suppose, fair enough. Thing is, while it makes me get a bit sick in my mouth just to think it, perhaps Toronto’s affection for Rob Ford is also Obama-esque in its way.

Filed under: Canada, Politics, , , , , ,


October 2010

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