By PAT WATSON
Giorgio Mammoliti, the Councillor for Ward 7 York West, formerly a member of the Ontario New Democratic Party but now seemingly more of a right wing Conservative, certainly has the knack for keeping his name in the headlines. He falls under the label of politician but should the description that comes ahead of that really be ‘opportunistic’?
Mammoliti has travelled some distance from doing maintenance work with the former Metro Toronto Housing Corporation to becoming a headline grabbing political player and default spokesperson for the current mayor of this city. To the chagrin of those who are taken aback by his bombast, the councilor, who once was an outlier, is now a leading voice for the pack on the right at Toronto City Council.
Once Rob Ford’s rival for the mayor’s seat, Mammoliti withdrew from the last mayoral race declaring that Toronto wasn’t ready for a visionary such as he is. This he stated, by the way, with a straight face, suggesting he was taking seriously what he was saying. One has to hope that away from the noise they so revel in such characters have something useful and positive going on, on behalf of this city, because they too easily come across as caricatures.
Given the kind of calculated – by his own admission – bluster that has become Mammoliti’s trademark why does this person keep getting elected? The answer would lie seemingly in the composition of the York West ward he represents, which is more than 20 per cent Italian, Mammoliti himself being the son of Italian immigrants.
But Ward 7 also has a Black population that is also near 20 per cent which, if his past actions are any indication, give rise to the question as to whether Mammoliti prefers one segment over the other? What issues will he support and, on the other hand, who would he make unwelcome?
Mammoliti has in the past shown great tenacity in making Black community organizations and businesses feel they are not wanted in ‘his’ Ward. In 1997, he fought tooth and nail to stall the move by the Jamaican Canadian Association (JCA) to its current Arrow Road location by refusing to support a rezoning application although plans to use the building already owned by the JCA as its new headquarters met official requirements. Mammoliti was accused of deliberately attempting to stall the JCA’s plans until after the municipal election to appease opponents of the JCA’s relocation. He has also used city restaurant and sanitation inspectors – and the police – to evict Caribbean restaurant owners who he decided were not wanted in Ward 7.
So Mammoliti may entertain or, depending on your sensibilities, annoy with his absurd or overly creative proclamations, including the latest that there is a communist plot to take over City Hall, but what should matter is his apparent discomfort with some of the constituents in the ward he continues to represent.
A note on selective evidence..gathering.
Sometimes the problematic choices that the Toronto Sun makes are such that they just have to be called on them. A case in point, the Sun has been making an issue of panhandling and panhandlers of late, and anyone who spends even a brief time in the downtown core will have encountered any number of persons – very few, if any, of them Black – on the sidewalks with their Timmie’s cups extended, asking for spare change. Somehow the Sun has managed to capture the image of perhaps the only Black homeless person in the city and has been using that photo in its continuing coverage of the problem. I would have thought the Sun was now past this kind of racial slant, but obviously I would have been wrong.
People who live downtown may understand that this is just the Sun’s way of selling papers, but those who live in the suburbs and who might not be familiar with Toronto, may form the wrong conclusion about who might be creating the panhandling problems on Toronto’s streets.