Ontario Independent

Saturday, December 9, 2023

Mel Lastman, the long-serving and often divisive former mayor of Toronto, has died

Mel Lastman former mayor of Toronto, has died at the age of 88.

Key takeaways:

  • Despite a long list of gaffes, missteps, and personal scandals, Mel Lastman died at the age of 88.
  • Benjamin’s Park Memorial Chapel will hold a funeral service on Monday at 10:00 a.m.

Mel Lastman, the brash, outspoken pitchman-turned-politician, has died at the age of 88, despite a long list of gaffes, missteps, and personal scandals that did little to detract from a remarkable career as Mayor of Canada’s largest city.

In a Saturday evening tweet, Ontario Premier Doug Ford confirmed the news, calling Lastman a “true leader and builder” for Toronto.

“He was a fantastic mayor who touched a lot of people’s lives,” Ford said.

“Mel, you will be greatly missed. At this hard time, my thoughts are with the Lastman family.”

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Lastman was described as a “remarkable leader” by federal Conservative Party Leader Erin O’Toole, while Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown said he had a “wealth of knowledge” on Toronto, Ontario, and Canada as a whole.

Brown said in a tweet, “I got to know him while I was serving at the provincial level.” “He leaves an imposing legacy of urban development.”

Benjamin’s Park Memorial Chapel will hold a funeral service on Monday at 10:00 a.m.

The diminutive Mayor Mel, a staunch defender of all things Toronto, wore his love for the city on his sleeve during a raucous six-year term as Mayor, which followed ten consecutive terms — 25 years — as Mayor of the suburb of North York.

His lovable bumbler persona earned him a reputation as a lovable bumbler who summoned the army during a snowstorm, begged the Spice Girls to stay together, and even threatened to kill a journalist.

But none of it seemed to diminish Lastman’s popularity — the bug-eyed rants, the off-color remarks, the illicit affair with a woman who claimed her two 40-something sons were his illegitimate children.

Outspoken former Toronto mayor Mel Lastman dies at age 88, premier says
Mel Lastman, a long-serving and often divisive former mayor of Toronto, has died at the age of 88. Image from Yahoo News

Reputation has spread across the globe.

Lastman told a newspaper in 2001 that he was nervous about a diplomatic trip to Kenya because of his fear of snakes as the world watched Toronto’s bid to host the 2008 Olympic Games.

“Why would I want to go to a place like Mombasa?” he asked later. “I’m just picturing myself in a pot of boiling water, surrounded by all these natives dancing.”

Beijing hosted the 2008 Olympic Games. The question of whether Lastman’s comments influenced the decision is still being debated.

When Toronto was hit by a deadly SARS outbreak in 2003, Lastman’s name went global. When the World Health Organization advised people to stay away, it dealt a major blow to the city’s tourism industry.

Lastman’s public appearances at the height of the crisis were bizarre. On CNN, he erred in his facts and had no idea how many people in the city were in quarantine or had SARS symptoms.

When the conversation turned to the WHO, Lastman appeared to have no knowledge of the international health organization at the center of the debate.

“They have no idea what they’re on about. I’m not familiar with this group. They’re someone I’ve never heard of before. I’d never seen anything like them before, “he stated

“Who did they communicate with? They’ve never visited Toronto before. They’re based in Geneva, I believe.”

Lastman’s office hailed the appearance as a triumph, claiming that the “little fireplug of a mayor” had assured the world that Toronto was safe to visit.

Lastman summoned the Canadian Forces to help Toronto deal with more than 100 centimeters of snow during a series of massive snowstorms in January 1999, fearing that his city’s snow-removal equipment was inadequate.

There were no major issues that required the 400 soldiers who responded to the call to use their brute force, so armored all-terrain vehicles were used to transport blood supplies to hospitals and clear the way for emergency vehicles.

Source: CTV News

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