Some Great Idea: Good Neighbourhoods, Crazy Politics and the Invention of Toronto
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Some Great Idea: Good Neighbourhoods, Crazy Politics and the Invention of Toronto

4.0 of 5 stars 4.00  ·  rating details  ·  73 ratings  ·  19 reviews
Since 2010, Toronto's headlines have been consumed by the outrageous personal foibles and government-slashing, anti-urbanist policies of Mayor Rob Ford. But the heated debate at City Hall has obscured a bigger, decade-long narrative of Toronto's ascending as a mature global city. It raises questions: What role does a mayor play in a city's temperament and self-confidence?...more
ebook, 226 pages
Published January 15th 2013 by Coach House (first published October 16th 2012)
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Andrew
This is the second smart review of Toronto politics I've read in the last few months. I'm pleased that there are writers like Edward Keenan who are able to provide insight into Toronto's anarchic politics without succumbing to prejudice. In his review of the mayoralties of Mel Lastman, David Miller, and Rob Ford, Keenan reveals deep social fissures in the city. These are not the result of divisive politics, but in fact the forces that explain the election of Rob Ford. As the city grows apart soc...more
Rj
Last night finished Edward Keenan's Some Great Idea: Good Neighbourhoods, Crazy Politics and the Invention of Toronto (Toronto: Coach House Books, 2013). Keenan who is a local journalist on urban affairs writes about the last three mayors of the city since amalgamation, Mel Lastman, David Miller and Rob Ford. He tries to tease out the connections between disparity of wealth, ideologies and politics by looking at how Toronto has struggled to find itself. Like the larger quest for Canadian identit...more
Nancy
What an interesting read for anyone that lives in and cares about Toronto. Keenan gives a good overview of the history of the city focusing on the characters that built it '....the Holy Trinity of Torontoism: William Lyon Mackenzie, R.C. Harris, and Jane Jacob'. His focus is on the post amalgamation mayors (Lastman, Miller, Ford) and how their governing style helped to create the city we know today. He's not easy on them exposing their strengths and weaknesses. The most frustrating part is the b...more
Vanessa
Interesting and readable look at the past decade of Toronto politics. Especially recommended if you've been watching the Rob Ford saga unfold and wondered how things got that way.

At the core of Toronto's problems is a divide between suburbs and city which no other Canadian city faces on the same scale - Vancouver is unaffordable everywhere, while Montreal struggles to prosper at all, and Calgary and Edmonton are nothing but suburbs. Only Toronto has such a marked contrast between idealized urban...more
Biff  Nightingale
Thought provoking and intelligent read..I could hardly put it down! Although ALREADY outdated (he ends on the heady days right after Ford was ordered from office), it is nonetheless an excellent analysis of what Toronto is, was, and could be. A must read for any Torontonian!
Michael Bryson
Interesting survey of Toronto municipal politics since amalgamation in the 1990s. Could do with more analysis on why amalgamation happened in the first place, and the role of the provincial government in setting Toronto down this new path. It was not inevitable, and the region-wide issues that amalgamation displaced remain unresolved and, again, on the upswing. It's great that Keenan writes about the crisis in Toronto old inner-suburbs, since that's a topic downtowners are often loath to articul...more
Leif
Reading this on just moving to Toronto, I was happy to find a well-versed, smartly written summary of Toronto's political and urbanist history over the course of its last three mayors --- Lastman, Harris, and Ford --- with brief glimpses of enduring presences in the city's architectural and cultural historical landscape, namely the influences of reformer William Lyon Mackenzie, public works commissioner Roland Caldwell Harris (well known by the argumentative take on his life from In the Skin of...more
Julian Haigh
A polemical account of Toronto's politics since amalgamation viewing the three mayors: Lastman, Miller and Ford, as prisms to understand the voting blocks of Toronto. A quick read, certainly no longer developed arguments, though with an open mind and a strong appreciation for the place of citizen engagement in the proper conduct of municipal affairs.
Arshy Mann
An absolutely fantastic book that opened my eyes to the nuances of recent political history of Toronto. What I expected was a book that focused simply on the urban core and viewed amalgamation as a disaster that should be swiftly undone. Instead, I got an engaging account of the Lastman, Miller and Ford years and an astute reading of what the urban/suburban divide in Toronto actually entails. Filled with great anecdotes and a keen eye for the broader history of Toronto (all the way back to Macke...more
Kendra
Read this book if you live in Toronto. City politics reporter Edward Keenan has unveiled his analysis of Toronto since amalgamation, examining how neighbourhoods have grown and how they respond to different policies and developments based on their unique circumstances. Framed by this primer on urban development comes Keenan's analysis of the three mayors since amalgamation: Mel Lastman, David Miller and Rob Ford.

While Keenan is no fan of Rob Ford, he gives what I see as a fair, almost magnanimo...more
Bill Crawford
This book was published before the Ford appeal decision, so it might be premature in its assumption that the Ford era is at an end. However, this is a thorough review of the last 15 years of local history, and is a manifesto /blueprint /impassioned plea for a political program and leadership that can make something better of the mess we find ourselves in. I agree with the urgency and the thesis, and that's why I'm giving it 5 stars.
James
Keenan's writing is an engaging mix of professional precision and individual idiosyncrasy. Some Great Idea is entertaining and informative, contextualizing and detailing Toronto's state of civic disorder in 2013. Its emphasis on achievement and opportunity is a refreshing change from the jingoistic discourse that commonly dominates political discussion in the city. I liked it.
Cody
I loved this read. Well researched with just enough historical context provided. Contemporary, historic and futuristic thought in one little gem of a book. Rob Ford fans - this book is not for you. Unless you need another reason to come over to the bright side.
Angela Sun
Interesting read, mainly on mayoral politics of Toronto. Would've like more insight into the broader genesis of city and its urban planning versus a deep dive into its sometimes petty politics. Well-written, passionate author.
Jacqueline
Very insightful consideration of the different kinds of relationships people have with their city. Through no fault of Keenan's own, I am just kind of sick of some of the stories. Cmoooon 2014.
Adam Sol
Very informative, breezily written book about recent Toronto politics. If you want to know how we managed to elect Rob Ford, this is a pretty good place to start.
Joanna
He kept my attention for a whole book on municipal politics -- very thoughtful and some great writing
Rob Duffy
If you want to properly understand the city I live in, this one is on the syllabus.
Dan
I don't think I've ever been more disappointed in a book. This was truly awful.
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