May 24, 2013
The mayor or equivalent chief executive of the financial and cultural center of your country is an important position. Not only is it typically a politically powerful position (which can be a launching point to or step-up from national politics), it is an importance symbolic position on the international stage.
The following is both enlightening and stark for the citizens of Toronto and all of Canada.
Although the idea of the G8 nations is becoming somewhat antiquated, let's first take a look at the seven countries of the G8 (excluding Canada for now) and their primary cultural and financial cities.
New York, USA
Notable: Self-made billionaire founder of Bloomberg LP and 27th richest man in world and in third term as mayor for which he declines a salary working for the good of New York City.
Notable: Oxford graduate, author, former editor of The Spectator and former Member of Parliament before becoming mayor and hosting successful 2012 Olympic games.
Notable: Prolific author, historian and journalist and chairman of Tokyo bid for 2020 Olympics.
Notable: Member of French National Assembly and elected to French Senate and secretary of Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defense and introduced popular free bicycle program.
Notable: Law degree and prior to becoming mayor was President of the Bundesrat (4th highest position in Germany). Most famous openly gay German politician
Notable: Prior to becoming mayor, he was former Deputy Prime Minister of Russia and then head of the Administration of the President. Sobyanin has a PhD in jurisprudence and has won praise for bringing in reasonable city planning and combating corruption.
Rome, Italy (granted Milan may be the financial center but population and cultural, we went with Rome)
Notable: The former Minister of Agriculture for Italy, Alemanno has a degree in environmental engineering and as mayor has successfully reduced crime in Rome.
Now, as mentioned, the G8 is somewhat antiquated so let's take a quick look at China and that of the world's 7th largest economy, Brazil.
Notable: Graduated with a degree in physics before joining communist party with various roles including Executive President of the 2008 Summer Olympics.
Sao Paulo, Brazil
Notable: Educated with a masters degree in economics and PhD in philosophy, Haddad was Minister of Education before becoming mayor of Brazil's largest city.
And now the drumroll please ....
Notable: Alleged to have smoked crack with known drug dealers (photo above-right from Gawker). Major accomplishment during tenure has been coaching high school football team to championship game but subsequently banned by school board, primarily for saying that his players came from gangs and would not attend school but for football.
A SERIOUS JOB
Look, if anything, the above illustrates that being the mayor of your country's most important city (relax rest of Canada, it is objectively true in the eyes of the world) is a serious position. Whom the mayor is affects world perception and thus has real economic and social consequences.
Canadians tend to have an inferiority complex anyway and have to overcome the image of being somewhat provincial. This doesn't help.
It doesn't matter where you are on the political spectrum. Excluding Toronto, the mayors above range from socialist to liberal to independent to conservative to very conservative. However, they share one trait: they are serious people. You may agree or disagree with a person's politics; but it is essential to have a serious person as mayor for your city and your country. It reflects upon all citizens.
Your move Toronto.