All I want for Christmas

Graham Crawford's holiday wish list for what he wants from the mayor of this city.

By Graham Crawford
Published December 14, 2011

At this time of year, it's not unusual for us to think about holiday cheer and new year's resolutions, about things getting done and things getting better. So, in the spirit of of the holidays, and within the context of all of the noise created by our current mayor's multi-messaged obfuscation, here's a short list of 10 things I want for Christmas from the leader of my city. This city. Any leader. All the time.

I want the mayor of my city to:

1. Have a fully articulated, communicated and actionable vision for Hamilton that serves as a touchstone and inspires all of its citizens, investors and potential citizens and potential investors to believe in Hamilton's current strengths and future potential; and to refer to that vision on a constant basis to make decisions and to assess progress and success.

2. Personally champion high-value, long-term, causes, projects and decisions that support and contribute directly to the achievement of the stated vision, both when it's easy to do so and particularly when it's difficult to do so; and to demonstrate that championing in public at meetings, speeches, presentations, traditional media, new media, in a truthful and inspiring manner.

3. Always view citizen feedback, both positive and constructive, as an opportunity to gain perspective and to advance the achievement of the stated vision; and to take that feedback professionally and not personally; and to treat all citizens with respect, dignity and compassion.

4. Always put principles ahead of personal popularity or personal expediency; and to know the difference between a project and a priority, between a plan and a vision, between leading and misleading.

5. Use the Office of the Mayor to help channel citizens' energy (time, effort, money, spirit) toward a higher purpose - fostering a better community for all; and to demonstrate personally and to promote selflessness over selfishness by all of Council, and by all throughout the community.

6. Demonstrate integrity, humility, and forthrightness in all dealings, not because it is expedient to do so, but because these behaviours honour the position of mayor and the trust citizens have placed in you.

7. Engage all media, traditional and new, to help explain, position and advance ideas, decisions and opportunities to help ensure all citizens know, understand, believe, and participate in the future of their city throughout your term(s) in office.

8. Do what you say you will do, and when you find that you have to change your mind, acknowledge that change and provide a clear, solid rationale for it; and to always make decisions based on the greater good for all citizens of Hamilton; and encourage Councillors, senior staff, and all employees of and suppliers to the City of Hamilton to do the same.

9. Encourage and assist others to work diligently, every single day, to achieve the stated vision in all decisions they are required to make; and to make adjustments and refinements as necessary to ensure the vision is achieved; and to celebrate progress by and success of those individuals and teams who have contributed to its achievement.

10. Demonstrate openly, loudly, and convincingly your deep love of Hamilton in all that you do, say, write, and feel, no matter how difficult it may be to do so.

Some will say I'm asking too much, that I'm greedy. Others will say I not asking enough, that I'm settling for too little.

No matter your view, my short list represents the very least I should expect from the person who made the decision to become the elected leader of my beloved Hamilton.

Is it really too much to ask?

Please feel free to add your own wishes.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all.

Graham Crawford was raised in Hamilton, moving to Toronto in 1980 where he spent 25 years as the owner of a successful management consulting firm that he sold in 2000. He retired and moved back to Hamilton in 2005 and became involved in heritage and neighbourhood issues. He opened Hamilton HIStory + HERitage on James North in 2007, a multi-media exhibition space (aka a storefront museum) celebrating the lives of the men and women who have helped to shape the City of Hamilton.


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By I believe (anonymous) | Posted December 14, 2011 at 13:49:16

insult spam from banned user deleted

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By Ivy League (anonymous) | Posted December 14, 2011 at 15:24:22 in reply to Comment 72265

used banner deleted from insult maps

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By dtwninvstr (anonymous) | Posted December 14, 2011 at 14:24:45

Thank you Graham for your thoughtful insight. It is always appreciated and your love for this city is obvious.

We should no longer accept mediocrity as the standard for our elected municipal officials.

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By Borrelli (registered) | Posted December 14, 2011 at 14:37:59

Therefore, I would post an 11th wish: that Mr. Bratina do the right thing and resign.


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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted December 14, 2011 at 14:48:57

Nicely done.

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By Merry Christmas (anonymous) | Posted December 14, 2011 at 14:54:11

This should be Hamilton's new Oath of Office.

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By Core-B (registered) | Posted December 14, 2011 at 15:13:44

Graham Crawford for Mayor.

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By my wish (anonymous) | Posted December 14, 2011 at 15:34:41

Number 1 is impossible since not all citizens share a common vision and its unrealistic to believe they ever will. Much of what follows is also un-achievable in all citizens minds due to this lack of common vision. What I'd like to see is 15 councillors and the mayor working together with respect and the end to all of the divisive and destructive campaigns coming from all sides.

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By Just another dissident (anonymous) | Posted December 14, 2011 at 15:42:49 in reply to Comment 72274

Perfection is impossible, it's the carrot on a stick we'll never reach, yet it makes a suitable vision because we should always be trying to head in that direction. There's nothing wrong with presenting an ideal that exceeds expectations. Tempering or qualifying that vision opens the door to mediocrity, which is firmly where we're planted right now.

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By my wish (anonymous) | Posted December 14, 2011 at 15:45:51

But when that vision isn't the vision of the electorite we get November 2010 election results

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By H+H (registered) - website | Posted December 14, 2011 at 15:46:35

@my wish

Beg to differ but only on my belief that Number 1 is possible, albeit difficult. I've seen it done many times before.

Civility without direction is, well, civility. Which is sadly lacking, as you point out.

So, I'd like to borrow your wish and make it Number 1 as a way of providing the proper and necessary foundation for completing my stated number 1 (now Number 2). I mean it.

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By revbrian11 (registered) | Posted December 14, 2011 at 17:04:25

Great piece Graham - wonderful sentiments, excellent road map for any mayor of this city. I would just have to say that I sincerely doubt that the current mayor of Hamilton would even understand what you've said - much less be able to act on the recommendations. The not-so-secret secret about the current mayor is that he is not smart enough to handle the position he occupies. A glib gift of the gab does not equal an IQ high to do anything near a decent job as mayor.

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By Silly Willy (anonymous) | Posted December 14, 2011 at 17:11:44

Well written Graham, I will ask for the same, seeing it's not asking for much, Merry Christmas.

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By Spec's the problem. (anonymous) | Posted December 14, 2011 at 22:45:34

Comments with a score below -5 are hidden by default.

You can change or disable this comment score threshold by registering an RTH user account.

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By George (registered) | Posted December 15, 2011 at 00:58:16

All I want for Christmas is a properly functioning mayor's office.

They can't even get an apology right, and the intransigence emanating from the mayor's office is becoming debilitating

Obviously Peggy Chapman is doing a terrible job, and never mind debating the merits of a $30,000 pay raise, how about debating the merits of firing her, and hiring someone who can serve the mayor, and the city, well.

Comment edited by George on 2011-12-15 00:59:18

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By WRCU2 (registered) - website | Posted December 15, 2011 at 06:45:05

I saw a movie last night called "The Christmas Box" starring Richard Thomas (John Boy Walton) in which the question was asked, "What was the first gift of Christmas?"

Now I must admit that I am trying to take in as many Christmas movies as possible before the winter solstice because that is when we have scheduled our cable TV disconnect in an effort to balance our budget. I am unemployed, so pay-per-view television has become a luxury for our family, although this is not really the point on my comment.

To make a long story short, Richard Evans (from a novel written by Richard Paul Evans and played by Richard Thomas) was asked by Mary Parkin (played by Maureen O'Hara), what was the first gift of Christmas? We learn in the end, as Mary is on her death bed, that that gift was a child.

Hamilton has a stated vision: "To be the best place to raise a child." Graham's first wish is:

Have a fully articulated, communicated and actionable vision for Hamilton that serves as a touchstone and inspires all of its citizens, investors and potential citizens and potential investors to believe in Hamilton's current strengths and future potential; and to refer to that vision on a constant basis to make decisions and to assess progress and success.

Ho Ho Holy Christ H+H, we already have the first wish which dovetails nicely with the very first cherished gift of Christmas! Great movie by the way and one you won't wish to miss, if IT fits into your budgets.


Comment edited by WRCU2 on 2011-12-15 07:45:02

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By Michelle Martin (registered) - website | Posted December 15, 2011 at 07:48:38

Many of these points are basic goals we should all have in any position or even task that we undertake in life, really.

Adding my own wishes, 3 of them, per Graham's invitation at the end of the article:

  1. LRT
  2. LRT
  3. LRT

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By Bob Bratina (anonymous) | Posted December 15, 2011 at 08:41:15

Metrolinx: Continue LRT planning

Citizens must champion LRT, mayor will not (Dec. 8)

Metrolinx values our excellent, continuing collaboration with Mayor Bob Bratina, city council and the people of Hamilton to complete the necessary planning, design and engineering work on the King-Main LRT project.

LRT is a project that could transform Hamilton’s economic development, quality of life and mobility. But we agree with the mayor that a recommendation to proceed with LRT cannot happen without all of the evidence and facts to support responsible, well-informed decision-making.

There are some large information gaps that the city will need to fill in order to define the LRT project and produce a solid proposal. Where will the LRT maintenance and storage facility be located? How will the LRT line connect with McMaster University? What is the implementation phasing plan for the line? What is the right way to procure and manage this project to achieve the best value for taxpayer money?

Until these basic outstanding questions are resolved, the mayor, Hamilton council and Metrolinx will not have a solid basis to make an informed decision on the future of LRT.

In October 2011, Hamilton council asked city staff to press ahead and complete the outstanding LRT planning and technical work. It’s a direction that we at Metrolinx fully support in the interest of transit project excellence, sound financial management and accountability to citizens.

Bruce McCuaig, president and chief executive officer, Metrolinx

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By Conrad (anonymous) | Posted December 15, 2011 at 13:58:17 in reply to Comment 72294

they got 3 millions Dollars from the province and can`t even give metrolinx a 3D plan for the Hamilton LRT ! .. give me a break .... get it done Hamilton , if use ever herd why Alberta is doing so well .. well juste go visite Calgary or Edmonton and go to there city Hall and see the before and after ther LRT ... then maybe the board whould wake up and get this thing done once and for allll !

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By H+H (registered) - website | Posted December 15, 2011 at 09:23:46


Love the movie review. I think I saw this one many years ago, perhaps when it first appeared on television. Can't quite remember.

As for the city having a vision, it does and in full it is:

"To be the best place in Canada to raise a child, promote innovation, engage citizens, and provide diverse economic opportunities."

My first wish is 1. Have a fully articulated, communicated and actionable vision for Hamilton that serves as a touchstone and inspires all of its citizens, investors and potential citizens and potential investors to believe in Hamilton's current strengths and future potential; and to refer to that vision on a constant basis to make decisions and to assess progress and success.

Having a vision and putting it on a poster does not make it actionable. Nor does it make it a touchstone. The presentation made to Council this week by Chris Murray and one of his staffers about the strategic plan was appalling. They are still questioning if they have too many, too few, or the right Values. This is 2 years after the above vision was articulated. It exists but is not being used. Let alone operationalized so that every single employee is using it every single day (see Wish #9).

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By Conrad (anonymous) | Posted December 15, 2011 at 14:02:34 in reply to Comment 72296

LRT will juste do all of his wishes ..... if pls in Hamilton NEVER gone out of this prvince for a vacation or what ever .. whould see the out-come of the LRT ... juste get it done Hamilton

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By Lakeside (registered) | Posted December 15, 2011 at 14:41:27

Graham, you do ask a lot. I'm not sure that I could hold up each of those values on an everyday basis.(Which is one reason I haven't run for Mayor.) But I am after all just a regular citizen.

It does seem to me, however, well within reason for you to ask, even demand, that the elected Mayor uphold each and every one of these on every day of their term.

I have no sympathy for this current Mayor in his ongoing fumbles. We should do everything we can to discourage from running any person who can't uphold the values and actions presented here.

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By ImprovingTomorrow (registered) | Posted December 16, 2011 at 10:23:41

All I want for Christmas is a future. The 99% can make a better world for ourselves even without convincing the 1%. Please share this holiday message, I want to reach as many people with it as I can this season.

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By TnT (registered) | Posted December 17, 2011 at 08:44:59

Well said, Graham, again. The value of what you bring to the city can’t be measured. The eye catching manner you do it and the speech is something that can all learn. It takes many little whacks at the stone (like my new tag says) to make it crumble. You have made me understand that it isn’t really all that big a stone to deal with at City Hall. It isn’t Coke, Walmart or some other massive corporate monster, it is a place that is made for us to engage and shape the future that we all want and need for ourselves and future generations. Very inspiring.

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By H+H (registered) - website | Posted December 18, 2011 at 11:24:30

@TnT - at first it didn't seem appropriate to comment, but I just have to say a great big thanks for the very kind words. Hugely appreciated. And, I love the new tag!!!!

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