Be Better, Angels

June 18, 2014

Let me run one of those chicken or egg questions by you. What comes first? chickenoreggBad political representation or a preference for bad political representation?

Now, I know the second half of that makes no sense. Who would prefer bad political representation if they had an alternative? But I have to tell you. Sitting through yesterday’s Etobicoke York Community Council meeting and watching councillors Doug Ford and Giorgio Mammoliti go through their paces, two long serving local politicians (I know Doug Ford’s a first timer but let’s think of him as the Ford brand extension), you have to wonder. Who keeps putting the likes of these two back into office?

At issue was, to an outside observer at least, a seemingly benign new development proposal along a western stretch of Eglinton Avenue. badpoliticianSixty-eight, three story townhouse units built on the intended route of the new Eglinton crosstown LRT, phase 2. Not entirely surprising, really. Even plans for a new rapid transit corridor tend to encourage new, denser development. At least, that’s how the theory goes.

Councillors Ford, Mammoliti and many of the people in the filled to capacity plus overflow rooms were having none of it. An outrage! A threat to their way of life! Another example of downtowners inflicting their new urbanism on the unsuspecting residents of Etobicoke!

More traffic chaos!!

Both Ford and Mammoliti took the opportunity to deride and denigrate the very concept of the LRT or, more specifically, its above-groundness. They filled the air in the room with misinformation and misdirection. demagogueCouncillor Ford’s main target was Councillor Gloria Lindsay Luby, the local councillor for the development, and her support of the LRT. Councillor Mammoliti? Well, he was just making noise in order to be heard. I rant, therefore I am.

Now it might not be all that disconcerting if they were just a couple stray mutts, snapping and yapping in an attempt to mark out some territory. Sadly, much of the public who got up to speak encouraged the outburst, feeding it and into it with their angry deputations and demands that everything remain just as it is. How dare you try to change the composition of our neighbourhood. We bought a home and settled here in the belief that it would stay the same forever.

I exaggerate for effect. It wasn’t quite that unreasonable. I am happy to report that more than a few in attendance were clearly appalled at the tone of the proceedings, shocked by the sniping and full on frontal attacks between councillors. angryvotersThat said, the vibe in the room over these plans was pitchfork-y. You will build this development and LRT over our cold, dead bodies, yaddie, yaddie, yaddie.

Perhaps that is the key to understanding the enduring presence of piss poor political representation in the system. Angry matters. Angry gets heard. Angry gets indulged. Angry is easy.

It’s easy to incite. It’s easy to maintain. It is easier to make people angry than it is to inspire them.

Thus, the always present demagogue in our midst.bullhorn

Councillors Ford and Mammoliti are the dark angels in our political process. They prey upon our deep-seated fear of change. They paint pictures of chaos and disaster, assuring us that will be the inevitable result if we take a different approach or alter things from the way they are now. Only they can protect us and our way of life from the future. Sure, things might be bad now, they could be better. But they also could be worse, folks. The devil(s) you know are preferable to the ones you don’t, and all that.

The likes of Doug Ford and Giorgio Mammoliti appeal to our very worst instincts. Unfortunately, those tend to be our easiest to access instincts too. We are perpetually vulnerable to attack from lazy, dyspeptic and ill-informed politicians who honestly believe themselves to be the standard bearers for the status quo. goodangelbadangelLooking out for the little guy, am I right?

As long as we continue to leave that flank open to them, they will take it. That’s all they’ve got. They know no other way. The Fords and the Mammolitis (and the Minnan-Wongs and Nunziatas) will continue to represent us until we push back against their brand of divisive fear-mongering. Until we stop being a little less like we are and a little more like we should be.

angelically submitted Cityslikr