Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti has launched a Facebook site designed, he says, to give voice to the silent majority of working-class Torontonians who don’t have time to speak out at all-night City Hall meetings alongside layabouts and “communists.”
“The people who show up for the meeting, some may be working people, but they’re only working off the dime of taxpayers,” said Mr. Mammoliti of the 170 speakers who turned out to speak at a 22-and-a-half-hour executive meeting two weeks ago. “They only come to defend their salaries. I want to hear from the average Joe Blow who doesn’t even know what City Hall looks like.”
Titled “Save the City...Support the Ford Administration”, the site has attracted over 500 members as of Tuesday afternoon along with a range of opinions on how the city should deal with everything from libraries to childcare to selling off city parking assets.
Mr. Mammoliti said started the site on Monday and has so far only kicked off one commenter after they voiced support for Queers Against Israeli Apartheid, a group Mr. Mammoliti has characterized as a hate group and worked to bar from the annual Toronto Pride parade.
“I don’t want to hear from communists,” he said. “I won’t be calling them communists on the site, but I will be using the word ‘whatever’ to reply to them. If you see that word you can be pretty sure they’re a communist and I’ll be cutting them off of the site.”
In the 1980s, Mr. Mammoliti served as a leader for the Canadian Union of Public Employees. Later, he served as an MPP for the NDP, where he became something of a pariah for opposing same-sex benefits.
“That’s where I learned how communists smell,” he said. “They are the ones who tried to brainwash me then at a younger age. It was 25 years ago. I know how they think and feel and speak. I just don’t have the time for them. Their attempt to brainwash me back then didn’t work then and won’t work now.”
He maintains a broad definition of the term “communist” as “anyone who is able to work, doesn’t want to work and wants everything for free,” he said.
An invite to the site was sent out to every one of Mr. Mammoliti’s Facebook connections, including those who friended him during his unsuccessful 2010 mayoral bid, “back at a time when he was a little less ridiculous,” said activist and Susan Gapka, who was surprised to find that she was automatically signed up as a group administrator on the “Save the City” site.
Ms. Gapka is the very type of City Hall fixture that Mr. Mammoliti is trying to avoid, a frequent public speaker at committee meetings who appeared at the all-nighter Executive Committee to critique the Ford agenda.
“I don’t think the Facebook group will last long,” she said. “When you set up terms of engagement with such schoolyard bully kinds of tactics, it only invites rudeness, not genuine conversation.”
Indeed, most off the hundreds of comments in the online comments have descended into right-left bickering, with some accusing Mr. Mammoliti of setting up a site “full of Ford sponsored trolls who are on here for hours at a time and participating in almost every thread.”
Another wrote, “If nothing else, this page has given me a HUGE insight into the workings of the pinko mind and the suffering that the right-thinking councillors have endured under Miller. I don;t know hw they stand it. Give them a raise.”
By the late afternoon Tuesday, anti-Mammoliti commenters appeared to be flooding the site and engaging in a game of online whack-a-mole with site administrator’s deleting anything smelling of an anti-Ford bias.
“STOP DELETING POSTS THAT DISAGREE WITH YOUR NARROW VISION,” wrote user Rich Yuzon. “SO MUCH FOR DEMOCRACY.”Report Typo/Error