Josh Matlow City Hall Diary
When I was in Grade 1, there was another boy named Josh in my class. Every time our teacher called our name, both of us would respond simultaneously. This became very confusing for everyone involved.
So our teacher came up with an idea that would cement our identities forever. My middle name is Joseph, while the other Josh’s middle name also began with a “J”. Therefore, with a coin toss, our teacher renamed one of us “JJ”. I chose heads and was allowed to retain my name. Although I wonder how “JJ” would have looked on an election sign if things had turned out differently.
I hadn’t thought of that fateful coin toss since then. That is, until Josh Colle and I were elected to city council together last October.
For some reason, many people seem to have genuine trouble telling us apart.
I first realized our common fate when I met with Mayor Ford’s former chief-of-staff, Nick Kouvalis, soon after the election. We talked for quite some time before he grasped which Josh he was talking with. Then, when I moved into my city hall office, I began receiving Josh Colle’s mail, along with calls from the receptionist’s desk about guests arriving to meet with me who I hadn’t expected. They weren’t there to see me.
Josh Colle has told me that he regularly receives compliments for this weekly column in the Toronto Star — and says he’s happy to get them. On the other hand, people often tell me they know my dad, Mike Colle, who serves as an MPP in the Ontario government.
While not my father, Mike Colle has been a dear friend of mine for over a decade. I’m sure Mike never thought he’d be forced to adopt me as a matter of circumstance.
And just this past week, I visited a committee meeting at city hall where the taxi industry was being discussed. A gentleman whom I’d never met approached me and commented on how he hadn’t seen me at St. Michael’s College in a while — Josh Colle’s high school alma mater.
I then joined in the committee’s discussion and made a speech that clearly went over very well with the taxi drivers in the audience. When I was called on to speak by the committee’s chair, he accidentally introduced me as “Councillor Colle”. When I spoke with the cabbies afterwards, it was obvious that Josh Colle had just inherited a strong contingent of new supporters.
What puzzles me is that, on council, there are several members who share first names, yet people seem to easily tell them apart. Would you ever mistake Mike Del Grande for Mike Layton? How about Doug Holyday for Doug Ford? If only I had a name like Denzil.
What Josh Colle and I have learned to accept is that while we are foremost accountable to our constituents, we are now also accountable to each other. Because, if one of us ever screws up, the other Josh will surely end up wearing it.
Josh Colle — er, Matlow — is the councillor for Ward 22, St. Paul’s.
To read this column on thestar.com, please click here.