Sunday, November 3, 2013


The really absorbing spectacle in Toronto news over the last few days has not been the revelations regarding Rob Ford, as anyone who has been paying attention knew that was coming. No, it has been truly epic meltdown of Canada’s worst journalists at Canada’s worst newspaper, the Toronto Sun, where they have in the past seventy-two hours revealed hitherto undiscovered ways of back-pedalling, equivocating, deflecting, denying, and dissembling. What remains is a quivering pile of populist goo, oozing about the ankles of the “sunshine girl” du jour.

I try not to read this stuff for the same reason I try not hit myself on the head with a hammer. But it has the morbid appeal of a car wreck and ambulances by the side of the road – can’t look at it, can’t look away.

Anyway, they had a good run. Apart from elected office, journalism is about the only profession where you can be paid to spew at the mouth once a week on matters about which you have no expertise, so they’ll always have their memories of that, at least. And one or two of them have shown real integrity in the past few days, by which I mean, they’ve at least been consistent in their lack of integrity where Toronto’s absurd mayor is concerned. At least one continues to insist that the whole thing is a “left” conspiracy (how they love to throw that word "left" around), while another,  Anthony Furey – I confess to never having heard of him before – rose to the occasion and condemned not so much the mayor, but his critics.  “The left,”
(there’s that word again), he wrote, "is not outraged that Ford might be using hard, the bottom line is they don’t like that a fat, red-faced football coach with a working-class way about him is mayor. They don’t like that he’s not “people like us.” That’s all it’s ever been about.”

Guilty as charged. Well, sort of. I actually don't want "people like me" as my leaders. I want people who are better than me. I don't want just plain ordinary good-ole aw shucks folks to be Prime Minister, Premier, and Mayor. I want the best and brightest in political office. I want people who are smarter than me. Better informed than me. More articulate than me. More literate and better read than me. I want leaders with vision. I want leaders who are people who set examples in all things – including moral behaviour. I want leaders who are truly exceptional, the kind of people who can inspire us and who we can aspire to emulate. And my question for people who want “joe average” as their leader, who want crude, crass, mean, mendacious, slovenly, stupid, rude, racist, and reactionary boors as their leaders is...why? What happened to our country, to our polity – and this question goes out to Americans, too  – that “elite” became a pejorative term and mediocrity became the measure of a man or woman aspiring to political office? 

As a society, we are faced with real and complex problems. We need serious people with serious answers if those problems are going to be solved. Electing populist hooligans who make you feel good about your own inferiority complex isn't the solution.


Graham Broad said...

This early update brought to you in a mysterious plastic bag "dropped" in the front seat of your car in the middle of the night!

JapanDave said...

I agree - we should hold politicians to a high standard, but I don't agree that the desire for an "everyman" to run the country reflects people's own insecurities. It is understandable that people in Canada are dejected by the state of our politics. Our federal, provincial, and many municipal governments are plagued by scandal. Both the "left" and "right" are responsible for these scandals, and both sides are busy crying foul at the other.

The reason people call for an average Joe politician is (obviously) exactly the reason Ford got elected. Ford didn't sweep into office using his intelligence and critical thinking skills, but he came in on the tail of another extreme where spending got out of control. A typical Canadian (maybe just Toronto) reaction to being dissatisfied with their incumbent.

It would be wonderful if we could have a true debate between politicians with actual ideas, but when was the last time that happened? In my decade of voting, I have not had the opportunity to vote for someone who truly deserves to represent Canadians (incidentally, I've been destroying ballots for years.. waiting for that right someone. Voting is like your virginity - you only get to do it once, so don't do it with some crackhead).

But, my point is that we are so far from having a choice between people with actual ideas beyond what not to do or say to win the election. We just get some vague election promises, lies, scandal... a new party... repeat this process.This drives people nuts. Then they start saying, "I don't have debt, I could run this city/country/province better," and they might be right.

Of course we SHOULD have the choice between exemplary politicians, but we don't. We have a drug addled mayor in Canada's biggest city, a mayor on trial for fraud in London, a premier who criminally wasted hundreds of millions of taxpayer money to win a couple of seats, and a dishonest, wet noodle PM (who may even be the best of them all! - I can't believe I wrote that).

Turning to "joe average" is not the solution, but I understand the reaction. There is no arguing with what you expect of our politicians, but it seems like an impossibly optimistic dream.

But perhaps I am over cynically. I hope so. I hope I'm wrong, and that one day I want to check a name on a ballot again.

Alison Hunter said...

I agree. With EVERYTHING.