Sunday, May 26, 2013

O, Canada -- What Is Up With Your Politics?

Our two leading political scandals offer a study in contrasts.

On the one hand we have our famously reclusive Prime Minister, holding down the nation's most visible job and, beyond tweeting a few shots of his beloved cat, keeping his daily dealings as hush-hush as possible. He lards a Senate he once offered to abolish — nothing new, that, and voters expected no less. And of course it takes some time, as these stories tend to, but eventually it comes out that some of these appointments are indulging either in some creative accounting, or are being spectacularly sloppy with their expense claims. It takes a little longer — some think a little too long — but eventually heads are rolling.

On the other hand we have the Mayor of Toronto, who can't seem to do anything privately — including, ostensibly, taking a toot off a glass pipe. His sense of entitlement is wildly evident, his capacity for self-indulgence and bold ineptitude a matter of public record. But he got to where he is by being “just folks,” and — more importantly — by capitalizing on a garbage strike that really, really, really pissed off the people who actually vote.

I never dreamed the stink of that strike could become such a distant memory so very quickly, but the Ford Brothers and their Collapsing Circus of Casualties have done the impossible.

It's the “circus” element that surprises, delights, disgusts. The people in the spotlight are all seasoned performers — once-proficient jugglers now baffled by the directions the balls are bouncing. In the case of former Senators Duffy and Wallin, we're talking about television journalists, fer cryin' out loud: people who covered the beat. Their Senate appointments relieved them of all professional expectations to be The Measured Voice of Reason, and introduced them to the rowdy world of partisan banquets and barbecues, where they guzzled Cutty Sark and delivered Catty Snark. Heady drinks, indeed, to so besozzle these former journos into forgetting precisely what morsels of indiscretion inevitably bring the Fifth Estate sniffing into corners one typically thinks of as “private.” No doubt the two of them are hard at work on “It's somebody else's fault” memoirs. By the time they're published, Harper won't have any teeth left to grind. And if he appeared to be paranoid and overly-controlling before this broke, wait'll you see what's next.

As for the Ford Brothers, I'm forced to recall one of George Carlin's quieter footnotes: “Where do people think these politicians come from?”

We've all been to High School. We all know swaggerers from privileged homes who dealt a little (or a lot) of hash, and who gradually parlayed that swagger into “respectability.” Now take a glance at the Ford Brothers.

You don't need a PhD in Psychology to read their body language — they think they're still in High School.

The front page news isn't news to anyone who's awake. C'mon: we know the Ford Brothers. It's the people who do the quiet work, the drudge work, the difficult work, in the hallways and offices and church basements and school gymnasiums we're not so familiar with — because that's the sort of work and those are the types of places we'd rather avoid.

Sound like I'm pointing fingers? Fine: I'm even lazier than you are. So let me advocate my standard of staying informed as the bare minimum for responsible citizenry. And here's the good news: it's pathetically easy!

Google the councillors in your riding. Google the candidates from the last election. They've all got Twitter-feeds (or Facebook pages). Now add them — all of them — to yours. The ones that are the most boring, that are begging you to attend a re-zoning meeting while you're watching the Monday night hockey game, are the ones to pay attention to and the ones you probably ought to be promoting in your own little way.

If we all do that, maybe — just maybe — we can keep dealers and goons out of City Hall. 

1 comment:

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