Toronto town hall meeting with our elected federal representative, David Crombie, 1980. St. Paul’s Anglican Church, Bloor and Jarvis. The riding of Rosedale, now known, more accurately since 2004, as Toronto Centre. A riding of being one of great contrasts. The riding misnomer being that the riding was much more than Rosedale, being north of Bloor. Extending south of Bloor to the mixed economic circumstances of St. Jamestown and around. Homeless missions that had been there for a much longer time than the new reno Cabbagetown crew. Where I lived at Dundas And Sherbourne, in a comfortable apartment apparently financed by unclean argent, church mission on the corner to the north and Salvation Army mission to the immediate south. Everybody out in the morning. Some going to work; most wandering the streets, or waiting to sleep more in Moss Park.
This mix of constituents meeting at the upscale St. Paul’s Anglican Church, to hear our elected representative. Some crowd hostilities.
Why was there no French spoken at the meeting? Why was there no election material in French, during the last campaign? Why was there no one able to speak French, when at the door? Answered in the crowd by one of my law school classmates, in impeccable French, as a second language, living north of Bloor. Mollification. Someone who shoud have run later, but did not. Maybe still.
Another in the crowd. What about the Queen, when will we cut our ties to her? David Crombie silent for a moment. Small man on a tall stage; the “tiny perfect mayor” as our equally perfect federal representative. Questioner figuring he’s got him; Crombie forced to defend the irrelevant.
He starts to speak slowly, looking up and away from the crowd, trying to convey sentiments obviously deeply held. Sentiments needing to be conveyed in a manner that is logically persuasive, rather than dogmatic. Basic idea that in the midst of the chaos that is often politics and world events, where so much is uncertain, it is important and very valuable to have a political constant. In his view, the Queen provides that constant, with her relevance being a function of the extent to which people wish her role to be more or less. But she is there, always there, and that is good.
Thinking about this today, during the time of the visit of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. The “Will and Kate” over an over seems somehow coarse. Thinking about how the Duke and his brother have trained for service to the people for so long, how both have military ranks that are earned, as part of a tradition of service, as does their father. As did their late great-uncle. Lord Mountbatten, whom I admired so much throughout my teens and twenties. How the family controlled understandably bitter and vengeful thoughts, following his assassination by the Irish Republican Army in 1979. How the Duke of Cambridge has controlled his own negative emotions over the life and death of his mother, the Princess of Wales. How they all try to be so positive and encouraging, in the midst of the chaos of our own lives and times.
Today, watching the Canada Day celebrations on Parliament Hill, I appreciate more what David Crombie was talking about.