Councillor Josh Matlow

Holidays bring calm before the storm

After a long election and then starting a busy job at City Hall, I enjoyed the holidays with family and friends. Here are some of my highlights:


The day before City Hall shut down for the holidays, Mayor Ford visited each councillor’s office handing out Caramilk bars. I ate mine, and some cookies Shelley Carroll made, while watching The Wire on DVD.


It sure wasn’t pizza night at council but I enjoyed eating perogies with my wife’s Ukrainian family. It’s our Christmas tradition. This year, I knew her relatives had finally accepted me because they didn’t mention anything gratuitously Jewish. Her kind-hearted brother-in-law, who had considered becoming a priest, once made a point of telling me of his appreciation of Klezmer music.


Toronto can feel like a village. I ran into dozens of people I know all over town. This included Dennis, a school caretaker in my ward, who helped me choose the new coat I’d eventually purchase at the Bay and a young shop sales clerk who told me I had spoken at his high school graduation. I was really touched they remembered me.


My wife’s friends, Colin and Michelle, threw a party at the house they own with another couple, Jackie and Dara. Jackie is a lesbian, ex-cop turned real estate agent, who has the wit of Woody Allen and the sincerity of Ghandi. We discussed the Toronto Police and the events during the G20 summit, Toronto politics, and her experiences working in the service. I look forward to seeing her again.


Our friend, Stephen, has cancer and is one of the most courageous people I know. He’s also an awful Scrabble player.

He and his partner, Lisa, cooked Indian food and treated us to chocolate mint tea while we discussed his treatment, found comfort in humour and played Scrabble. I know Stephen is going to win his fight with cancer. He’ll have many years, and he’ll need each one, to finally be victorious on the Scrabble board.


After Boxing Day, I stopped by City Hall to check on my mail and return some phone calls. It was eerie walking through the empty hallways and by the councillors’ dark offices. Still new to the job, I felt like I had broken into the place and was sure to be escorted out by security.


On a cold evening at the Nathan Phillips Square ice rink, I watched Torontonians of every age and background, from downtown and the suburbs, skating together. They were there to simply appreciate what our city has to offer.

It ironically took me going back to City Hall, but after the politicians had left, to be reminded of the spirit of the season.

Perhaps the mayor, his team, and council’s left wing should go skating together in 2011.


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