Rightward Ho!

As someone not a stranger to undercutting my own arguments with grand overstatement – overreactionRemember that doozy of mine when I criticized our mayor by stating that the guy must be on crack or something? – I’m not prepared to write off the entire premise of Matthew Hays’ Guardian article because he suggested Canada has ‘devolved into some rightwing hellhole’. I imagine the state of Mississippi to be the model of a righwing hellhole. We’ve crept closer to that fiery crevasse than I would’ve imagined a few years ago but we’ve still got a ways to go in my estimation.

Still, I believe Mr. Hays offers up a useful mirror to peer into especially those of us of a certain age who grew up basking in the beneficent warmth of the Pearson Peace Prize-Trudeau Just Society. We were peacekeepers not warriors. Reasonable stewards of the earth. Beloved by all nations. We proudly attached maple leafs on our backpacks as we roamed the planet, spreading the gospel of hockey and our tolerant non-judgement all over the world.goodolddays1

It was never all that, of course, but it’s hard to dispute that there’s been a drift away from what we believed were Canadian ideals of fairness, justice, compassion and collective cooperation. Hardly the ‘welfare state in the worst sense’, our current Prime Minister once claimed it was, we have though tilted a fair bit rightward from the days when our Tory blue glowed a little redder. It’s worth noting on this day when Nelson Mandella is laid to rest that it was our then Progressive Conservative prime minister who broke ranks with many of the rightwing luminaries of the time in his calling for an end to apartheid in South Africa.

Maybe, I don’t know, it’s just a case of youthful rebellion. Children, growing up to petulantly reject the beliefs of their parents, spreading their wings to cover new territory. It’s not so much that we disagree in principle with what we were taught. We just need our own space to evolve, grow.

So in electing the likes of Stephen Harper and Rob Ford we’re doing nothing more than acting out, establishing our own personalities distinct from our predecessors. It’s a phase. We’ll grow out of it.

If we have become, as Mr. Hays asserts, “…crude, swaggering, bungling, irrational and mendacious”, who else would those adjectives describe? ignoramusAmericans. Yeah, sure. Remind you of anybody else? Teenagers! Exactly. Self-indulgent know-it-alls prone to exuberant mood swings of wild proportions. We’re still developing, trying out different personas to see which one fits us best.

As any good parent or guardian should be, I think Mr. Hays is rightly concerned at some of our more excessive outbursts of anti-social behaviour. We have embraced a love of irrationality, eliminating from our diet anything that might challenge our firmly held beliefs. The long form census? TMI. We’ve rejected the notion of consensus-building in favour combativeness. It’s now a black-and-white world out there, populated by potential enemies not allies. Israel, good. Iran, evil. The country’s maintained a teenager’s love of a messy bedroom, however, comfortably promoting a dirty agenda of fossil fuel exploitation and ignoring pleas to try and clean up, just a little, like we promised to back in the day.

These are worrisome inclinations on our part if a loss of what some of us believe to be positive Canadian ideals matters at all. crudeandswaggeringWhile Matthew Hays might be a little over the top in his reaction to our current pattern of bad manners, there’s nothing wrong in sitting us down and trying to get some sort of explanation about why it is we’re doing what we’re doing. The warning signs are all there.

I mean, if Rob Ford and Conrad Black are the type of people others think about when they think about Canadians, there can be little question that this place has become unrecognizable to many of us.

sadly submitted by Cityslikr

Rob Ford Lawyers Up

As if we needed yet another reason not to vote for Rob Ford as mayor of Toronto.

(Apologies if this is already well trod ground. We’ve been roughing it in the bushes for the last few days and this only hit our radar this morning.)

It seems that the blustery councillor and mayoral hopeful is as thin-skinned as he is thick-headed. Last week Team Rob Ford took exception to a less than flattering but painfully obvious parody blog, robfordmayor.com, and had its lawyers slap a cease-and-desist order on it, demanding an immediate adherence to the following:

  1. Disable and remove all material from the website www.robfordmayor.com;
  2. Confirm in writing that you will not publish similar infringing material in the future;
  3. Publish and unqualified apology to Mr. Ford; and,
  4. Provide us with the identity of the person who registered and published on www.robfordmayor.com, as this person would be the proper defendant in any potential court action, and we would not be able to access his/her true identity without this disclosure from you.

For all you out there still misguidedly operating under the pretension that Rob Ford is all about looking out for the little guy, I have two words for you: McCague Borlack.

This is the quintessential behaviour of a bully. A master of dishing it out but possessing zero tolerance when on the receiving end of taunts and mockery and ridicule. Rob Ford has stood up in council and derided cyclists who get into accidents with cars (although his heart does go out to them) and those afflicted with HIV-AIDS as perpetrators of their own afflictions. Yet, in the face of schoolyard, locker room humour, he hightails it to hide behind his lawyers. Mommy, mommy. Stop them. They’re making fun of me.

What kind of fortress of solitude has superhero Rob Ford been dwelling in for the last decade or so? You step into the public spotlight and the insults and ridicule just comes with the territory. That’s been the case long before the interwebs ever came into being and, to paraphrase Pierre Trudeau, much better men than Rob Ford have been called much worse things throughout the annals of history.

More disturbing still, reading over the order issued to the server of www.robfordmayor.com, it seems that Rob Ford may actually believe some of the shit he’s trying to pedal to the voting public during this campaign. It starts like a prospective fundraising letter. Mr. Ford has been the Councillor representing Ward 2 in North Etobicoke since 2000, and he is one of the hardest working councillors in Toronto. Due to his extensive work in the community, Mr. Ford has become well-known for superlative and conscientious work as a public servant, businessman, volunteer and family man. Understandably, his reputation is very important to him. [bolding very definitely ours].

Errr… Mr. Ford’s “reputation is very important to him”? Can this be the same Rob Ford who, after complaints about his drunken outburst at a Leafs’ game 4 years ago, first lied about being there and then issued a public apology, stating that, hey, he was only human. Now his reputation’s important to him? Why the change? Oh right. He’s running for mayor.

As a candidate seeking that office and “one of the hardest working councillors in Toronto” — was lawyer Anthony Cole trying to summon up images of James Brown with that turn of phrase? – one might think Rob Ford and his team would have more important things on their plate other than trolling the internet, trying to quash what even the creator of robfordmayor.com referred to as a “low grade satire’. It reveals an unsettling streak of small-minded pettiness. In Rob Ford’s case, it also exposes the lie at the heart of his common man appeal. The emperor has no clothes and when the people pointed that out, he lawyered up and threatened them with libel suits. How very Conrad Black of Rob Ford.

barristerly and solicitorly submitted by Cityslikr

The Great Man Pronounces

If the upper classes are not going to lead by example, what use have we of them then? It is their duty and obligation to educate us and elucidate for us, the grubby lumpen proletariat, the ways in which we should live our lives and to serve them best. In return we allow them untold riches and space in the broadsheets to issue commandments and correctives.

So how are we to understand the merits of shame and opprobrium and learn to show remorse if our betters do not display those traits for us?

To whit, Lord Conrad Moffat Black, Baron Black of Crossharbour’s latest communiqué from Coleman Federal Correctional Complex (even the gaol he inhabits sounds highfalutin) in the pages of this weekend’s National Post. One might think, given the Baron’s present incarcerated circumstances that we would be on the receiving end of some note of contrition; a tutorial of mistakes made, lessons learned and amends to be offered. Meus erroris planto mihi a melior vir, as the great one might say to fill up space with ostentatious portentousness in order to deflect from the fact that he is just another convicted felon.

A hardened criminal doing time who just so happens to get space in a national newspaper whenever he is possessed of a gaseous bubble of opinion to belch out. It is the very same newspaper he once controlled through the now infamous Hollinger International and unceremoniously dumped in a selling frenzy, as a hot air balloonist might when his contraption is dangerously losing altitude and all ballast is tossed overboard in an attempt to avoid crash landing. Just as a beaten whelp of a pup eagerly seeks the outstretched hand of its brutal master in the hopes of the slightest touch of affection, the Post allows Lord Black free reign to let loose his blowsy, clearly comically intended prose stylings whenever he sees fit.

The latest Blackian expulsion came in a 1300+ word endorsement of Sarah Thomson for mayor of Toronto. This ought to secure her a healthy chunk of the fraudulent former multi-millionaire vote but will it be enough to firmly plant her candidacy in the imagination of the average joe voter? Only if a perspective voter looking to Conrad Black — locked up away behind bars off down in Florida as he is — for direction on whom to support in this fall’s mayoral election here in Toronto, possessed the Herculean mental stamina to still be functionally conscious after eleven, verbiage laden, antiquities referencing paragraphs listing all the other cities throughout the world Lord Black prefers to Toronto before he eventually meanders toward the Thomson endorsement in the article’s final paragraph. (See? Imagine that kind of sentence construct stretched out over 3 pages.)

Even then, Lord Black could hardly be considered over the moon with Thomson, referring to her as he does as “… a declared candidate, is youngish, attractive, intelligent, peppy, original, is a competent businesswoman with a colourful past and would work tirelessly for the city.” Not exactly a ringing endorsement, and very likely one that a smart aspiring politician would keep off their Facebook site. What kind of bounce should they expect from having someone with Lord Black’s colourful past refer to their own ‘colourful past’?

The sentiment oozing from the pages of Lord Black’s missive from prison can best be summed up as: well, since we must have elections if we are to insist upon living within the crushing confines of an ill-serving, ill-advised democracy, we could do worse than vote for Sarah Thomson. Let see Ms. Thomson make mayoral hay with that.

Moreover, it is deeply disturbing that after everything Lord Black’s been through, the crimes he has committed, the relationships he has severed, the trust that he’s squandered, he seems fundamentally unchanged and very much unrepentant. Where’s the shame? The remorse? Even after the harsh, brutal treatment that is most certainly meted out behind prison bars to privileged, white collar criminals like Conrad Black, he remains bombastic, monumentally pompous and egregiously supercilious. Everything that we have come to expect from our wealthy, silver spoon-fed, self absorbed and improvident elite. It’s almost as if Lord Black actually still believes, like every other cheap hood who has emerged on the wrong side of the law, that he is an innocent man wrongly convicted.

What lesson are we, the great unwashed, supposed to take from that?

snivellingly submitted by Acaphlegmic