10/18/2014 (10:28 am)
When Harvey Borden first voted in Toronto, there were no glass-covered condos. No “new” City Hall. And definitely no subways.
There was also “no such thing as insults” in politics, said the 101-year-old Toronto resident.
This centenarian is clearly fed up with political finger-pointing.
In years past, “it was a matter of letting the public know what you can do and what you can’t do,” said the dapper former accountant, who wore a tan blazer and pocket square while voting in an advance poll near Yonge St. and St. Clair Ave. on Thursday morning. “Of course, today, it’s a different story. The ones running for office are only interested in insulting each other.”
There are also “too many personalities” now, Borden said.
But don’t go thinking Borden is frustrated with politics to the point of apathy. Far from it.
Borden first cast a ballot when he was around 18, in the early 1930s. That means he’s been voting in Toronto for around 80 years.
“I’ve travelled Canada and I still think we have the nicest, the largest, the most productive (city) with regards to industry — and anybody who wants to make a go of it, Toronto is the city for you,” said Borden, who clearly loves his adopted home.
Borden was born on July 1, 1913, decades before it was formally known as Canada Day, and moved from Russia to Toronto as a toddler. The Toronto of his youth was like a “little town,” he said.
He’s now a subway supporter, but said his “transit” as a teenager was just the bicycle he’d take to work at Koffler’s Drugstore on College St. (That little drugstore was owned the Koffler family — a family business that was eventually transformed into Canadian pharmacy giant Shoppers Drug Mart.)
Reflecting on the numerous mayoral elections he’s seen over the decades, Borden said Nathan Phillips, the mayor of Toronto from 1955 to 1962, was one of the “best mayors we ever had.”
Phillips is known for his efforts to build Toronto’s new city hall and modern civic square, amid controversy and pushback from the public. His downtown namesake, Nathan Phillips Square, opened in 1965.
“He did everything in order to beautify Toronto, to make their budget work out and not be insulting,” Borden said. “That made a good mayor. He’s there to serve the public, and not to insult other people.”
So who did Borden vote for this time around? He’s quick to answer: John Tory.
Borden said he remembered the Tory name from the Toronto law firm Torys LLP, and considers the family “leaders” in Toronto.
“I hope that if he comes in, I know he’s going to do his best,” Borden said. “He’s not going to be busy insulting people, and I hope the others will learn not to insult him.”
Borden also offered three pieces of advice for those running for office in Toronto.
One suggestion, apt advice from a former accountant: Don’t go spending billions more than the city has available. Another: keep working on those subways.
And his last bit of advice? Stop insulting people.
“If you’re educated enough to run for mayor, then you’re educated enough not to insult each other,” Borden said.
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