Me And Chris Stockwell

July 24, 2013

Yesterday I wrote a post about the current plight of Detroit specifically, and of North American cities in general. chrisstockwellWithin minutes of sending out a link to the piece, I received this feedback on the Twitter from Chris Stockwell, former Progressive Conservative MPP, minister and Speaker of the Assembly under then-premiers Mike Harris and Ernie Eves:

So the Dems have won every election in Detroit for last 60 years and they go bankrupt and it is the GOP’s fault…. wow

For those of you who read the post indulge me while I point out to those who haven’t that I suggested nothing of the sort. In fact, I pretty much wrote the exact opposite. That Detroit found itself now on the verge of bankruptcy for myriad of complex reasons that stretched back over nearly 70 years. “… as with any complex situation,” to quote my exact words, georgebell“there are no easy conclusions to draw, no simple answers.”

Yet Mr. Stockwell saw that I’d mentioned three conservative politicians, his former boss at Queen’s Park, the governor of Michigan and the mayor of Toronto, and formed an opinion that I was blaming the Republican Party for Detroit’s financial problems. I responded, saying I’d also mentioned the 1987 Toronto Blue Jays in the post. Maybe they were culpable of killing Detroit too?

I mention all this not to prove how thin-skinned I am. To paraphrase our late Prime Minister, Pierre Trudeau, I’ve been criticized more harshly by better people. But I do think it’s important to note because of its adverse affect on public/political/civic discourse.

We can and should have disagreements. Criticism is a necessary element to a properly functioning democracy. echochamberQuestions need to be asked. Answers given.

Opinions must be informed opinions based on all available facts at hand.

Nothing can be accomplished, however, if we’re just hurling invectives at things we imagined another person said. Reinterpreting what someone else says through a lens of personal bias just leads to a conversation with yourself. The proverbial echo chamber.

Our politics here at All Fired Up in the Big Smoke are pretty upfront. We believe that after three decades of neoliberal governance throughout this continent and much of the developed world, the chicks are coming home to roost. The results are showing up at the extremes in distressed places like Detroit and other municipalities facing insolvency but also in every city groaning under the dead weight of aging and decrepit infrastructure. becauseIsaidsoOur public realm has been starved for the sake of private interest.

In a zero sum game, more theoretical money in the taxpayers’ jeans means fewer new lines of transit. That’s just basic math.

We’re willing to be convinced otherwise but that can’t happen if you insist on debating words we didn’t write and argue with ideas we don’t have.

patiently submitted by Cityslikr