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article imageOp-Ed: Former mayor asks where's the niceness in Toronto? Special

By Romeo Marquez     Sep 23, 2011 in Politics
Toronto - Former Toronto mayor Mel Lastman bewails what he perceives to be the loss of civility in the city, an ironic twist to what a politician's aide practices in real time.
"The thing is you gotta get the city back to being friends, to being nice, and to be friendly and neighbourly," says the 78-year-old Mel Lastman, the former mayor of Toronto.
The city's ertswhile "Badboy" and "Noooooobody" stood before an assembly of about 30 residents of a condominium on Covington Rd. and talked much longer than the person he was endorsing for MPP for Eglinton-Lawrence, the incumbent Mike Colle.
After the usual thank-yous, Colle's retinue proceeded to give out raffle tickets for complimentary gifts and some door prizes.
One older lady was going around, reaching out to those in the back seats. I was standing in front of her, taking pictures and videos interchangeably as she proffered the tickets to every one but me.
As she extended her arms, I wondered why she skipped me. My face was no more two feet from hers but she, who stands perhaps less than 5 feet, seemed to have not noticed my six-foot hulk.
I paused my camera in anticipation that she would hand over one of the tickets. I really didn't need one. Nor did I want one. I said to myself that if she gave me, I would refuse. I wasn't interested in anything.
But it never happened. When she finished, she went to the other side of the room and gave more.
Former Toronto Mayor Mel Lastman decries the city s slide into incivility.
Former Toronto Mayor Mel Lastman decries the city's slide into incivility.
A few minutes ago, she was standing behind Mel Lastman as he bewailed the growing lack of civility in Toronto. In fact, I made a wish that she would move out of range of my camera because she was ruining my composition.
How ironic it was.
I felt discriminated. And so did the four Filipino women caregivers who stood by the door. They told me they were treated the same way I was treated - ignored and snubbed as if they were furniture.
But unlike them, I wasn't going to let it pass without telling her. And so when she emerged from the back row, I went up to her and told her: "I have a question for you. I'd like to understand why you never offered to give me a ticket the same way you offered the others. And I was just right in front of you".
"Oh, I'm sorry," she replied. "I didn't see you".
"But do you see me now?" I countered to emphasize the obvious. My distance talking to her was the same distance when she was handing out the tickets. Evidently she chose to ignore me at the beginning.
I was fulminating. Here was the former mayor ranting against the seeming unfriendly and rude situation in the city and here was one of the aides and/or supporters of Mike Colle making a mockery of it.
Another aide of Colle was profuse in making an apology on behalf of the incumbent MPP and promptly disowned the offending elder woman. She said she was a resident of the condominium who only volunteered to help but not a staffmember.
I thought for a moment that Mel Lastman was referring to these breed of women who believe they are entitled to lash out at people who speak and look different than them.
Before this incident happened, another white woman, perhaps a condominium employee, had asked me to bring the chairs stacked in the back, to the front to accommodate an overflow crowd of voters ostensibly to listen to Mike Colle.
I wondered why she chose me over the other men in the room. There was this Caucasian guy, obviously an aide to Colle, who took pictures with his cell phone. And the Jewish men were there too.
Why, of all people, did she pick on me? My color? Because I'm Filipino and she assumed I'm a junky laborer?
A week ago, an incumbent MPP, Glen Murray, attended a Filipino event in loose shirt and rubber shoes. (Please video at:
Because the occasion was a relaunch of a Filipiniana Library in Cabbagetown and a ceremonial ribbon was to be cut by Murray, guests led by Philippine Consul General Pedro Chan came wearing barong, the Filipino formal attire. Except for Murray, many of the guests wore decent clothes.
Indeed, Mel Lastman was correct in bemoaning the loss of civility. "Where's the niceness" of people in Toronto?
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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