MAYOR Mauro’s performance in his first town hall did not reflect a city positioning itself for the 21st century. Everything was wrong with Mauro’s dogmatic address to the community in his spirited public engagement.
Revealing were Mauro’s words to councillors, which he says he offered before they were sworn in, of the ability to say “no.” Revealing also was his scuttling of the formality to recognize that the proceedings were held on traditional First Nations’ lands. These would define the theme of the evening.
To the supporters of Dease pool — the closure of which was ramrodded in a hasty seven days just before Christmas — Mauro laboured on the process and how near impossible it would be to reconsider the decision. No mention why the process that allowed for council to defer the decision to give citizens an opportunity to meaningfully explain their concern over something so impactful, was denied them.
Mauro downplayed racism. He said nothing was going on in Thunder Bay that wasn’t going on in like communities. He referenced the authors of the reports on our police force as “these guys.” He appeared to suggest those reporting on the social conditions of Thunder Bay from out of town were careerists. The only thing he didn’t accuse reports on Thunder Bay’s social conditions of was fake news — but it was implicit.
What should make the community’s collective heart sink is that the problems related to social and economic exclusion that Dease pool addresses are precisely what the mayor doesn’t want the media to report about, and bristles at any reference to. We see the continued abandonment of south McKellar, allowing the elements we most fear to find new opportunity for growth.
If you were looking for a cosmopolitan mayor, you found a small town sheriff. The meeting ran like a bad first draft of In the Heat of the Night, where a bull-headed leadership didn’t need any outsiders poking around and finding fault.
We hope this is an expression of the mayor’s personal conviction, and not public policy. But, in the absence of council criticism and recent policy decisions, we fear a new and dangerous course is charted ahead.