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.