For­mer city coun­cil­lor pens mem­oir

Plus a street on York Univer­sity cam­pus is named for Moscoe

Bayview Post - - News -

After an il­lus­tri­ous and of­ten­times un­ortho­dox po­lit­i­cal ca­reer, it’s only fit­ting that Howard Moscoe’s book isn’t a typ­i­cal mem­oir.

The for­mer North coun­cil­lor is re­leas­ing

this fall, a first-hand ac­count of Moscoe’s wild time in pub­lic of­fice that spanned more than three decades.

“I loved ev­ery mo­ment of it, even the dif­fi­cult mo­ments,” Moscoe said. “My life has been a bit of a com­edy. I never had more fun than in my 32 years in pol­i­tics.”

Sev­eral chap­ters of the book, which took Moscoe four years to write, re­volve around his long­stand­ing feud with for­mer North York and Toronto mayor Mel Last­man and how that helped turn Moscoe into a prom­i­nent pub­lic fig­ure in the city.

“If I said a black­board was black, [Mel would] say it was green,” Moscoe quipped. “Philo­soph­i­cally, we were at op­po­site ends of the po­lit­i­cal scale. I re­ally didn’t dis­like him. I just liked toy­ing with him.”

The spat started as some­what of an ac­ci­dent: when the re­porters of the lo­cal daily news pages of the Toronto Star needed some filler, Last­man and Moscoe would of­ten trade barbs to make head­lines.

“I told Mel one day, ‘You made me fa­mous. When are you go­ing to make me rich?’ ” Moscoe said.

Al­though his meth­ods were of­ten un­con­ven­tional, Moscoe’s ac­com­plish­ments in pub­lic of­fice have made a last­ing im­pact on the city, par­tic­u­larly in the area of pub­lic tran­sit. He was in­stru­men­tal in es­tab­lish­ing the TTC com­mu­nity bus sys­tem in 1990, a ser­vice that has been adopted by many cities around the world since then.

“You have the ca­pac­ity to make changes in your com­mu­nity, if you work at it,” Moscoe said. “If you can fig­ure out how things work, you can make them work for you. And have a healthy dis­re­spect for author­ity.”

Moscoe also brought in the weekly TTC tran­sit pass as well as trans­fer­able passes and helped re­design both Mu­seum sta­tion and what is now Shep­pard West sta­tion.

Moscoe’s close work with the TTC — of which he was chair from 1998 to 2000 and from 2003 to 2006 — led to a de­ci­sion this past Septem­ber to have a street lead­ing to the new Pi­o­neer Vil­lage sub­way sta­tion at York Univer­sity named Howard Moscoe Way.

“It is de­li­ciously ironic be­cause one of my sworn en­e­mies is York Univer­sity,” Moscoe said, a nod to his con­tentious re­la­tion­ship with York and their fight over the York Univer­sity Busway as well as many amend­ments to York Univer­sity’s of­fi­cial plan.

“They wanted the street to be named York Lions Way be­cause it leads into their sta­dium. The univer­sity lost that fight — coun­cil gave me the name — but it’s typ­i­cal be­cause the York Lions haven’t won very much in their his­tory,” he said, chuck­ling.

How­ever Moscoe hasn’t hung up his hat for good. He currently gives lec­tures on Toronto pol­i­tics at Ry­er­son Univer­sity.

The book is one of many re­tire­ment projects Moscoe has un­der­taken since leav­ing of­fice in 2010. He’s lead­ing the charge to turn the afore­men­tioned York Univer­sity Busway into an oil tanker truck route, in or­der to re­store a by­law keep­ing the trucks from cross­ing the in­ter­sec­tion of Keele Street and Finch Av­enue and po­ten­tially caus­ing an ex­plo­sion.

Moscoe also plans to have the LED light sculp­ture, at York­dale sta­tion re­in­stalled by the end of the year.

Be­fore en­ter­ing pol­i­tics, Moscoe was a ju­nior high school art teacher with the North York Board of Ed­u­ca­tion, and his pas­sion for art has re­mained to this day.

“My ca­reer has been largely based on buck­ing the es­tab­lish­ment, fight­ing for things that I think are worth­while,” Moscoe said, “and I haven’t gone to bed en­tirely as a re­tiree.”

“It is de­li­ciously ironic be­cause one of my sworn en­e­mies is York Univer­sity.”

Howard Moscoe stand­ing near the North York Civic Cen­tre in 2006

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.