In ’99 I was running to be a councillor in a Toronto by-election. A very accommodating Kathleen Wynne answered my appeal for volunteers and showed up one afternoon to hike the driveways of east Scarborough with me. Seeing as I did not know her but for my familiarity with her reputation as a public advocate, Kathleen’s support that day buoyed me. I never forgot her gesture, although I lost my election bid quite soundly to Toronto politico David Soknacki.
How I met John Tory is another story. He was one of the early insiders, as was I, to rally around a campaign to elect Mel Lastman as Toronto’s first “megacity” mayor. A bunch of us attended a summer planning meeting at the offices of Capital Hill Group on Bay Street. Those were days when you could drive downtown and find an affordable parking spot nearby. I parked on a lot on Bay across the street and north of the office building.
By the time the evening meeting was over, it was pouring buckets outside. John Tory and I took the elevator down together. When I entered the lobby sans raincoat or head covering and without rain boots I knew I could be moments away from a drenching. John Tory, on the other hand, was perfectly prepared for inclement weather in his well-tailored, waterproof black trench coat and a massive golf umbrella. Mentally I was ready to take the massive dash through rapidly expanding puddles to reach my car. I also knew I could wait until the worst of the storm had subsided. But neither option became necessary because John offered to walk me back up the street under his umbrella before I had time to choose.
It was a brief walk, again, with someone I barely knew and with someone who rose to a historically significant position of power and influence.
I’m looking for these two leaders, Premier Wynne and Mayor Tory, to back the rising call for attention to littering and work to create a zero tolerance atmosphere for the act of throwing garbage on the ground. My reasonable hope for 2015 is that Wynne and Tory will put their names behind my litter prevention campaign and will treat the idea of lowering the rate of littering with positive indications and meaningful actions.
I’ve heard it said that people don’t change. If that is true, maybe I can take heart then that Kathleen, the volunteer and activist, and John, the kind fellow with the umbrella, will come through for me once again.