Take off, eh

Just in case there was any remaining doubt in your mind- which there shouldn’t be if you have read any of my posts (like this one Or this. Or this.)- I am very proud to be a Canadian.  I might get more than a little testy about our elected leaders- and their behaviours and systematic dissolution of some of the very policies and programs that have made us stand out, internationally, as an awesome place- one with welcoming arms and a social conscience to go with its gorgeous landscapes and world class cities, but I’d really rather live here than anywhere else in this wide world.  (At least permanently.  An extended holiday somewhere without winter wouldn’t be all that bad…)

I read this article without even a bit of surprise and with a heart full of pride.  I love it when we are recognized for our overall awesomeness.  For the most part, we deserve it.

Which is why I was distressed to have read this article yesterday which is, IMHO, bang on about our very real and very dire situation here in Canada’s biggest (and best) city.  We are in a state of crisis, evidenced yet again yesterday when the chair, Frances Nunziata (an ally of that buffoon I’ve spoken of at length), of city council was forced to shut down the session because of the un-parliamentary behaviour of said mayor-in-name-only and another of his cronies.

What’s a citizen to do?  Really.  I’m asking.  For reals.  Looking for a response that makes sense to me.  There is a crisis of strong, ethical leadership at all levels of government right now (although, as the article notes, Kathleen Wynne is doing her absolute damnedest to lead her chaotic party with something like a responsible example- it’s a majorly uphill battle, though) and that got me thinking about a number of things- none of them particularly comfortable.

At dinner with close friends a couple of weeks ago, the talk turned to politics (not something that is unusual).  One amongst our number- a high school principal in one of the RC boards in the GTA- will be throwing his hat into the ring of provincial politics sometime in the near future.  He took a run at it about a decade ago but decided that it was a bad idea- given the dysfunction of the political environment.  But things have now reached a state where he is feeling like not getting involved is a form of negligence or collusion.

As we spoke, and as I ranted about the municipal situation (as I’m inclined to do), he suggested that I should run for city council.  My initial reaction?  Yeah, right.  First of all, I do not have the personal wealth to get involved in politics (one of the many flaws in the system), and the reality of the situation here in TO means that I would be unlikely to garner any level of financial backing, since I’m not convinced that my view of things is in any way supported by others in this great town.  At least not those with the money to spend to back an untested candidate.

Plus, I would certainly be dismissed as an ‘elite’- given my educational and locational background (having always lived in affluent, ‘downtown’ neighbourhoods), so that would eradicate any possibility of support from ‘the Nation’ and others who might be disinclined to vote for a non-career politician.

I have no interest in having my life exposed to the constant scrutiny of the media- and to those in opposition of my views that might seek to ‘expose’ something unseemly.  Not because I have anything to hide- no skeletons in my closet that I’m aware of- but because the thought of becoming part of a system that is run that way is anathema to everything I believe in.  The behaviour of ridiculous groups like the ‘birthers’ in the US, or those who vilified Michael Ignatieff and Stéphane Dion- when they ran for federal leadership- solely because of academic background and perceived elitism… I just don’t get- and can’t, in any way, suborn that kind of thing.

So.  I dismissed the suggestion out of hand.

After reading the articles yesterday, and with my Canadian pride all lit up like the CN Tower at the recognition that we are pretty cool folks, now I’m feeling like making excuses for not participating on some level is far too close to complicity in the perpetuation of the complete lack of leadership that we are dealing with in my city.  And my country.

I’m not sure what to do with this feeling, or where it might lead me, but I’m thinking that the New Year is going to HAVE to see some action on my part.  Enough just writing and bitching about it.  My CV- widely dispersed in my ongoing search for a more meaningful line of work- claims ‘excellence in leadership’ as one of the attributes I could bring to a company or organization smart enough to hire me.  I’m thinking that it’s time I figured out how to put those skills into practice to effect some change.  How that will be done will require a whole lot of reflection and discussion with my loved ones.  I’m not sure I can sit idly by as my beloved city/province/country loses all those things that make us stand out- and stand tall- as Canadians.

That said, I’m not about to commit myself to a run for council.  I don’t think I’d last a day.  I am a pretty patient person (as classrooms of hundreds of undergrads can attest), but at the first sign of behaviours like those seen in the council session yesterday?  How do you fight idiocy?  I have no clue- and standing, daily, against that level of discourtesy, boorishness, ignorance and completely unjustified arrogance would render me completely ineffective in a matter of weeks.  I can’t fight on their level.  I won’t fight on their level.  But I am at a loss as to how to even begin to raise the standards.

The people seem to like their idiots-as-leaders/media personalities (did you see the latest Fox ‘News’ debacle about the definite ‘whiteness’ of Santa Freakin Claus?  And Jesus?  You can’t see me, but believe me, I’m shaking my head in exasperation).  I’m not an idiot, and I have no intention of playing one on tv.

I hate politics.  Not a big fan of politicians either.  They are single-mindedly focused on their own agendas- or those of the lobbies that support them.  The few ideologues who are brave enough to climb into the mire for the betterment of others too quickly become engulfed by the surrounding culture of self-serving impetus.  In the aftermath of the loss of the great statesman (NOT politician.  NEVER a politician), Nelson Mandela, it’s impossible not to make a comparison with those putative leaders that we can claim, these days.  How do we remove the ‘dirty word’ aspect of politics and politicians in favour of a more statesperson-like definition?

And then there are those ‘mayors’ who never even finished university or had a career other than ‘politician’ and ‘ part time football coach’… Those who cast unfounded and libellous aspersions upon the names and characters of those journalists who are called to hold him- and those who likewise claim to represent the best interests of the city- to account…

Food for thought.

PS- I have also decided that I am going to begin interspersing my regular conversation with all the stereotypical ‘Canadianisms’ that float around outside our borders.  Anything to keep up our image of ‘quaintness’ in the face of accusations of inbred idiocy, which, given the fact that so many people are still saying they would re-elect a certain someone, aren’t completely unfounded.   So… ‘take off, you hosers.  I’m off to pick up a two-four of Labatt’s Blue and then head oot and aboot in the snow of the Great White North. Eh.’  

PPS- I’m not, really.  Labatt’s Blue is TERRIBLE beer.  And I never been either oot or aboot- to my knowledge anyway.

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44 comments on “Take off, eh

  1. lostandfoundbooksandfoundbooks says:

    Well said! And it reminds me that the Cons made fun of Justin Trudeau for his teaching background…

    • colemining says:

      Oh Booksy- how is it that we’ve reached a place where education and the ability to clearly articulate ideas and plans (rather than slogans and sound bites) are greeted with suspicion and abhorrence by the electorate? I can’t tell you how LITERALLY hopping mad (and I DID use that correctly- I was jumping up and down in rage the first time I saw the anti-Justin propaganda) those ads make me.
      Got me some major league thinking to do over the next while. New directions and such. Thanks for reading!

  2. bethbyrnes says:

    Your approach to this topic parallels mine quite closely. I could never be a politician for all the reasons you mentioned and more.

    Where I live now — Valencia, California — we have a far far right wing dominated local government. Buck (change the first letter) McKeon is our Congressman – that should tell you what decisions are made around here.

    When I first moved here, an innocent, I fruitlessly joined environmental groups that sought to protect endangered species, the Santa Clara river (one of only two in Los Angeles county and a trickle now because of bad management and over-building), and to enact a variety of modest progressive measures, only to witness graft, greed, bribery, and every kind of deceit imaginable. After five years of spinning my wheels and likely earning a reputation as a crank tree hugger, I gave up.

    I would have to move to the SF Bay area in order to even consider rejoining such efforts.

    By the way, I love Canada too. Tell me though, what is the situation with Canada and protection of wolves, seals, and other similar species from ‘hunters’, [something I abhor]. That would be my main hesitation and I have heard stories that may be apocryphal.

    • colemining says:

      Beth- our previous mayor was a much more moderate voice for responsibility as far as environmental impact stuff went- advocating for bike lanes and public transportation and the reclamation of green spaces in town. He was considered to be one of the ‘elites’ and, had he decided to run again, would likely have been defeated by the ‘nation’ for his increase in automobile taxes and the like. Amalgamation was the worst thing to happen to the core of this town o’ mine.

      As to the protection of animals about which you inquired… I’m not sure that the stories you’ve heard are all that apocryphal. I’m not an expert, (understatement, that) and the little I do know comes from a few different perspectives. I have a number of friends who work with First Nations- particularly in the Far North- and their take on hunting is from a cultural and sustainability point of view. From what I’ve learned from them, among the FN groups responsible hunting has always been paramount, and remains a necessity in their communities.

      There are certainly people in this country who hunt for sport- and whether or not they do so with any thought of animal welfare or endangerment issues is completely out of my purview. I don’t hang out with sport hunters, so I have no immediate experience of the loathsome phenomenon. Don’t get it. Never will.

      At the federal level I do know that our current government is generally faaaaar less concerned with the long-term welfare of and effects on people and the environment (so animals, by extension) than they are about short-term economic expediency (i.e. demonstrating that our economy is fully functional). Environmentalists, David Suzuki is one example, are highly critical of their policies and the environmental degradation that results from having the dollar as the bottom line. I defer to their wisdom in this. The windmills at which I tend to tilt are more city- and development based.

      But at the individual level, the folks I know have a deep respect for the wonder of our natural landscapes and resources, so there are a whole lot of people up here that are actively working to mitigate (if not eradicate) the irresponsible stewardship that the feds continue to practice in order to fill the pockets of their corporate backers (and, not surprisingly, lining their own in the process).

      Depressing response for you. Constant vigilance is the watch-word- and we’ve been falling down on that responsibility- as a city, province and nation- lately. IMHO. Which is one of the reasons for my current quandary…

      Thanks for reading!

    • lostandfoundbooksandfoundbooks says:

      Remember, many of these “hunters” are Aboriginal. They hunt as part of their culture and to survive. While I abhor cruelty to animals, First Nations people live sustainably and honour all animals. So, I support the right of Canada’s first nations to continue their traditions.

      • colemining says:

        Absolutely Booksy. That is exactly what I meant to suggest in my response. My friends and colleagues- and my own experiences- have very much emphasized the importance- no, vitalness– of the continuation of traditional methods and access to hunting grounds. The two things (FN vs. ‘sport’ hunters) are entirely different. Shouldn’t even have mentioned them in the same response.

      • lostandfoundbooksandfoundbooks says:

        I know! I hit the comment section too fast without thinking (and if you saw my post about Jane Austen, you’ll know I am the type to say things without thinking, but with the best of intentions 😉
        My apologies. I need a nap. 😉

      • colemining says:

        No worries Booksy! Could use a nap hereabouts too. I’m blaming the weather. But then, I often do, when it involves snow.

      • lostandfoundbooksandfoundbooks says:

        I reread your comment, where you so eloquently talked about Aboriginal hunting…please feel free to delete both my comments due to their redundancy!

      • colemining says:

        All good! Bears repeating regardless.

  3. lennymaysay says:

    Hahaha! Grappling with similar thoughts here in South Africa. But hey, I did like your Molson Black, I think it was called…

    • colemining says:

      Lol. Think you might be talking about Carling Black Label. I used to drink that in my uni days. Hard to find these days. We have SO many better beers here.

      • lennymaysay says:

        No, it was definitely Molson something or other. Anyway, lately I’ve taken to craft beer made by micro-breweries – way better than the mass produced stuff. More expensive, but well worth the extra moola.

      • colemining says:

        I’m all about the craft beers too- and we have some fantastic ones hereabouts. Definitely worth the higher price tag!

  4. I still have my original Bob & Doug XMAS album.

    Don’t like present-day politicians much either. (Hold out for Governor General.)

    • colemining says:

      Me too! I still can’t hear ‘The Twelve Days of Xmas’ without there being a ‘beer, in a tree’.
      Not sure what we’ll do with them all, Nav. Ford made an ass of himself again today. No surprise.

      • “It doesn’t matter what they’re saying about you so long as they’re still talking.”

        Almost appears to be a truism for careerists.

        Now I HAVE to get my system set back up for XMAS (basement reno).

      • colemining says:

        That is certainly the case as far as Ford is concerned.

        It’s among my favourite holiday songs- that’s for sure!

      • Geddy Lee at his very finest. The Beer Hunter. Honey Cruellers.

        I still remember laughing myself senseless as a high schooler watching SCTV. Count Floyd. Edith Prickley, Jr.

        Good old days.

      • colemining says:

        SCTV was classic. I actually linked part of one of the episodes in an older post- the one about Bob Geldof. Once upon a time SCTV had AMAZING musical guests (I also remember John Cougar (pre-Mellencamp) as the guest. Incroyable indeed)- in addition to the fantastic cast. I actually met John Candy a number of times over the years. One of the genuinely nicest people I’ve ever had the privilege to meet. Ah, us Canucks. Even our celebrities are cool peeps (with some notable exceptions- no names mentioned- but that Beiber kid turns my stomach).
        Speaking of Edith… I saw Andrea Martin speak a Roy Thomson Hall a couple of years back. What a fantastic lady she is. Love them all.

      • The Fishin’ Musician (Red Fisher) and Wendy Williams.

        Celebrity Farm Blowup.

        Always heard they were nice people.

  5. I, too, have no inclination to ever hold power of any sort. While there are some people who genuinely run for office out a wish to do good, many are self-serving narcissists who would sell their mothers down the river for a shot at power. I have no wish to mingle with those types. And, I, too, am stuck with a leader (governor) who turns my stomach and is a national embarrassment. But, she will eventually pass, most likely to be replaced with some other boob.

    Keep on with the Canadianisms. I have great respect for y’all up north; good people, perhaps a bit more judicious than us to the south, and always friendly and welcoming.

    • colemining says:

      Over the past while I’ve been trying to figure out how to translate my disgust with the current situation into something proactive. Since the municipal election ball is about to start rolling (I foresee 10 months of insanity as the brothers Ford attempt to convince the idiots to whom they continue to play that they should continue running the city), I’ve almost reached a decision about how I’m going to attempt to do something about the whole sad situation. Need a bit more time ruminating and discussing with friends and family.

      Thank you for reading and for your lovely words about us humble Canucks- much appreciated, indeed. We have to recover our national sense of respect for others and ability to engage in polite discourse- and stop all of this yelling and screaming. Will do my darnedest to get us all back on track!

  6. colemining~ consider leading and “running” for a position in your city or province. Yes, I read your post and I appreciate your arguments. However, the country needs intelligence, balance, and compassion which it appears you possess. Recently, I attended a municipal town hall (in another city) meeting and was so disappointed with the lack of leadership shown by the council; only one councillor spoke up to the issue. There was too much silence with the leaders all looking sideways at one another, I suppose in a show of protectionism. There is an element of young, old educated, impoverished, socially aware members out there who are looking for effective leaders. Unfortunately, too few individuals vote or speak up as they used to (at least like “my generation” did) or did we? It is important to lead with fairness and intelligence. Integrity is a bonus. Consider, colemining!

    • colemining says:

      Grace- how timely. I was just discussing this very thing (and mentioned it in an earlier response). I am trying to work out the best way- personally and professionally- for me to do more than pay lip service (or contribute recurring written rants about the whole thing) to the incredible need for leadership and systemic change. Talking it all out with my loved ones, and we’ll see just what next steps to take.

      I took the first one today- contacted my local city councillor to get some information. Something needs to be done.

      Thank you for reading and for your input. I completely agree that intelligent, balanced and compassionate leadership is desperately needed at this point. I just have to figure out just what role my contribution to that leadership might take.

  7. I completely understand your disinclination to become embroiled in the muck of politics while, at the same time, wanting to do something constructive. I would not want to sink into that mire and yet I don’t know how to reconcile disinclination with motivation to elicit change. Becoming part of the problem does not seem like the answer and yet what else is there? I will be interested to know what you come up with as a result of talking with your family and reflecting on possibilities. I could see you making an excellent leader. But I would not wish a political career on anyone. There has to be another way. I just don’t know what it is. 😉 x

    • colemining says:

      Thanks Scottishmomus. Hashing out some possibilities- likely will involve some volunteering for my local counsellor and/or the candidate I’d REALLY like to see run for mayor in this election. I’m not sure that I could handle a life in the political realm myself- and that uncertainty makes me a bad candidate. Once we make it through this ice storm aftermath (no power in much of the city) and the holiday I will set my mind to boiling down the realistic options.
      I appreciate your kind words- and empathy. Both are gratefully acknowledged.

      • You’re welcome. Sounds a bit of a nightmare, weather wise, your way. Hope it all clears soon. Let us all know what you decide. 🙂 x

      • colemining says:

        Yes, I’d say it’s just ‘wintertime in Canada’, but this is really out of the ordinary. The temp is supposed to drop, which will make everything freeze up even more, so hopefully the hydro folks will get things sorted before that happens. The commute in to work this morning was quiet though- that’s a plus!
        Will definitely keep you in the loop!

      • Good stuff. I’ll be interested to know what you come up with. Might even emulate it. 😉

        You’re still working? Days off for Christmas, surely. 🙂 x

      • colemining says:

        I’m at work- so far it’s quiet though. And we have power, so this is good. Only the barest time off- for the statutory Xmas, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day for me. No rest for the wicked and all that…

      • I’m a bit spoiled then with school holidays. Just squeezed all the shopping into the last few days.
        Hope you have a great Christmas. 🙂 x

      • colemining says:

        And you, as well! All the best!

  8. […] the sublime to the Canadian… Nav65 and I were talking about this the other day.  A bit of the best of this place I call home.  A bit of funny.  A bit of silly.  A bit of […]

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