Thursday, September 17, 2009

sun on the run: bonus features

Before reading this post, check out the original article on Torontoist.

Brunny
In case the fine print is too fine—left to right: Ben Wicks, Paul Rimstead, Peter Worthington. Photo by Norm Betts. The Toronto Sun, October 24, 1972.

Paul Rimstead wasn't kidding when he said the other papers paid next-to-no attention to his mayoral campaign. Passing references were made to him in the Globe and Mail, while the Star couldn't resist a potshot or two. Case in point: Jack Miller's television column from the December 1, 1972 Star, which noted Rimstead's appearances on CITY:

The station even managed to present him in a suit—a nice blue suit—as part of a male fashion show on the afternoon Sweet City Woman series this week. It’s rumoured he’ll be wearing a suit again for tonight’s debate, indicating he takes CITY even more seriously than they take him (which is more seriously than most people take him).

This attitude may partly explain why Rimstead was not thrilled when the Star asked him for a three hundred word summary of his platform instead of a spot on a candidates forum beside David Crombie, Tony O'Donohue and David Rotenberg.

From the November 23, 1972 edition of the Star:

The Toronto Star asked me if I would like to outline my platform today in 300 words. I have declined, because it would not have nearly the impact of fair treatment and an invitation to last night's forum.

Oh well, that's show business. The Empire Club excluded me, too.


1972 Mayoral Logos
Logos for the three frontrunners in the 1972 mayoral race. The Toronto Sun, December 4, 1972.

The 1972 mayoral race will probably pop up in a future installment of Historicist, as it was one of the key elections in Toronto's history. The Toronto Life covers from the campaign alone are worth an article. (UPDATE: Said column didn't appear until 2014!)

***

It shouldn't come as a shock that I wrote an archive column for my university newspaper. I loved leafing through the bound copies of back issues and seeing how student attitudes had changed over time, or which political columnists and figures writers loved to take pot shots at. Through the 1970s and 1980s Lubor Zink's columns were a favourite target due his zealous Cold Warrior persona. Since the University of Guelph didn't have the Sun on microfilm, I asked Dad about Zink's writings. His assessment was that Zink was overzealous in his battle against Communist states and sympathizers, but felt that a few of his criticisms proved correct in the long run.

Still, any long-term truths are buried in an onslaught of unceasing vitriol that may provoke laughter in anyone other than die-hard Commie hunters. As former Telegram colleague Fraser Kelly summed up Zink in a July 1, 1972 column for the Star: “Those of us who know him well find him to be warm, kind and clever. We also consider him to be obsessed by the Communist menace.”

As for Zink's campaign against "Trudeaucracy"...hoo boy. Read for yourself. If you hate PET, you're in for a treat. If you love/respect PET, you're in for a comical treat.

Zink's stronger-than-expected result in the 1972 election was helped by chaos in the NDP camp. Economist/political activist Mel Watkins was slated to run in Parkdale until the party gave the boot to Watkins' Waffle faction. A last-minute scramble for a replacement candidate ensued.

***

As for Peter Worthington, the strong feelings that his campaigns evoked are best summed up in a photo:

We Want W
Photo by Nancy Ackerman. Source: The Globe and Mail, August 29, 1984.

Nearly all of Worthington's fellow Sun columnists were effusive in their praise during his runs (only Douglas Fisher was willing to admit his chances of victory was less than 100% certain). Here are a few words from Worthington's successor as Sun EIC, Barbara Amiel that appeared October 10, 1982:
What distinguishes the B-G campaign is not the facr of an independent candidate—Peter Worthington—running for office, but a candidate with independent ideas. For whatever the voters of [Broadview-Greenwood] may think of Worthington’s free-market, free-enterprise support of individual initiative and responsibility, there is no quibbling with the absolute fact that he offers a clearcut alternative to the various shades of state socialism now offered by all political parties...The party system will survive. But it will survive more strongly if the voters in Broadview-Greenwood, that strange amalgam if a thousand-and-one Canadians of every political shading, put down their ideological differences and personal animosities in favour of telling politicians of every hue and persuasion that the time has come to give meaning to the diversity of ideas.
Sorry Barbara, but that byelection didn't alter the face of the political landscape, though Worthington came within two thousand votes of victory. The seat was up for grabs after Bob Rae switched from federal to provincial politics upon his victory in the Ontario NDP leadership race. Most of the riding had voted NDP since 1965 (when it was part of Broadview) and continued to until Liberal Dennis Mills won in 1988. Following a renaming to Toronto-Danforth around 2000, the riding returned to NDP hands when Jack Layton defeated Mills in 2004.

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