Who’s Out Of Touch?


As the interminable federal campaign draws to a close and our well established liberal media (newspaper division) largely circled its collective wagons around the incumbent Conservative party (some following tortuous paths to get there), one thing becomes clearly evident. If you’re not voting for Stephen Harper and the Conservatives, you’re the radical, you’re out of step with the mainstream. You’ve lost your way from traditional Canadian values.

If nothing else, this election has attempted to normalise Conservative behaviour as the old stock baseline. Sure, there were a few mistakes and missteps. Nobody’s perfect. Are you? But ultimately, steady as she goes, no serious deviation from the core principles that have defined this country since Confederation. Above all else, Canadians have fought and died for low taxation and a sound economy. Everything else is suspect.

“But mostly the critics [of the Harper administration] are seething with ideological zeal that warns that today’s Canadian progressives have veered to new extremism,” David Frum tweeted out on Saturday. Opponents of Stephen Harper are the extremists, says the guy who helped cheerlead the U.S. into a misguided war in Iraq that set the Mideast on fire. Yes, we’re the extremists.

As much as we’d like to think we are different than our neighbours to the immediate south, more tolerant, more moderate, more reasonable, in the light of this election campaign and the continued viability of the Conservative brand, we need to rethink that smug point of view. Our conservative segment of the population has drifted farther and farther from the middle of the political spectrum, dragging the centre with it and eyeing suspiciously everyone who hasn’t followed their rightward march. From that relative position way over there, enthusiastically enabling the vanishing of Canada, it sees its opponents and critics as the ones out of touch, out of step with their Canada. Radicals. Extremists.

So be it. Accept the fact that at this juncture in our history, we must consign a quarter to a third of our voting population to intractable conservative fanaticism. My party, right or wrong. A faction living quite comfortably in its no longer veiled racism and bigotry, happy at war with information and history, defiant in denying the inconvenient realities of the world around them. One time fringe thinking now mainstream conservative thought.

We need to stop catering to it, to cease trying to woo it or appeal to its better nature. There’s no such thing as a Conservative better nature. That died a long time ago.

You can’t ignore it but you can isolate it. 25%, 33%, that’s still a minority, healthily so, in fact. It’s not enough to govern properly but it is ample enough to disrupt the proceedings.

When Stephen Harper hooked up with the Ford Bros. for a campaign rally on Saturday night, it was a full and frank admission that this was all it was about, all it had ever been about. Disruption. Governance mayhem. Disregard for anything and anybody not holding to their narrow and dim world view. All of them feeding into and off of our worst instincts, asking nothing more from us than our hatred and fear.

Supporters and apologists tried to make that appear as normal, standard practice, conventional wisdom, plain ol’ common sense. You don’t think so? You disagree? You’re out of step with the rest of us. You’re out there, radical, extreme.

To believe that, though, is to admit that you don’t trust numbers, that basic math is an unreliable source of information. Somehow 25%, 33% makes a majority and dictates what constitutes the mainstream. The rest? Deluded, suffering from a simple case of Harper Derangement Syndrome.

It doesn’t add up but it never was supposed to. A stubborn wilfulness sits at the core of conservative thought belief these days. That’s why it’s so hard to engage. We need to stop trying. It only lends credibility where none is deserved.

radically submitted by Cityslikr

The Unbearable Smugness of Being Doug Ford

As often is the case when sitting watching the proceedings down at City Hall, I often think of Edward Keenan. No, not in that way. I don’t even know the man. I think about something he’s recently written which is a frank admission that I’m always a couple steps behind what’s going on, playing perpetual catch-up.

The latest example came yesterday at day 2 of the budget committee’s 2012 capital and operating budget review. In walked committee member, Councillor Doug Ford, spouting nonsense and casting groundless aspersions as he questioned staff, this first time exaggerating sick days/holiday time taken by those working in the city’s 3-1-1 department. Later, he asked if the drug prevention program was still buying bottles of wine for patients. It wasn’t. Not yet done, the councillor then questioned procurement processes with the student nutritional program once more based on, what the Star’s Daniel Dale generously tweeted, “wrong info”.

Or as Mr. Keenan called it last Thursday when writing about Councillor Ford’s November 28th performance on LeDrew Live (still not up on the website), “It was either lying or, in the most charitable interpretation, being dead wrong.”

Another day, another blustery blast of misinformation. Whether owing to gross incompetence on the councillor’s part or crass political gamesmanship, it serves only to diminish the political discourse and reduce the budget debate to little more than he said, she said. Working with your ‘own facts’ to paraphrase David Frum as quoted by Edward Keenan.

I’ll let Keenan’s article speak to that particular issue but I have another bone to pick with the mayor’s brother here. After getting his facts a little askew on how much time of service earns how much vacation time and the actual amount of sick days taken over at 3-1-1, Councillor Ford jocularly asked the room where he could hand in his resume to get a job there. Ha, ha. What a cushy gig, eh? See what I’m getting at here?

As a matter of fact, councillor, yeah, I would like you to hand in your resume and get yourself a job answering questions from concerned, confused, distressed and disgruntled Torontonians at 3-1-1. Put in your 20 years or so to accumulate 6 weeks of vacation. Have at it. It might just wipe clean that smug sense of disdain you have for everyone not living the Doug Ford lifestyle.

That’s an open invitation to everyone out there who get their knickers all in a twist about allegedly easy jobs (usually of the union kind), where the living is large and the pay astronomical. Teachers with their summers off. Six digit making TTC fare collectors. Those goldbricking garbage collectors. Get a real job, you teat-sucking bums!

If these really are such great ways of making a living, why isn’t everyone applying for them? Yes, Councillor Ford, there’s an unusually high absentee rate at 3-1-1 because people just love working there. Like they do at call centre situations the whole world over. “In the private sector, call centre workers have the highest level of absence (14.8 days). This is also the highest level of absence for employees across all industries.” Evidently, taking people’s questions and fielding their complaints on the phone or via the interwebs is everybody’s dream job.

Unlike, say, inheriting a successful business from your daddy. Never having gone that occupational route myself, I can’t talk of its pitfalls and pressures but I’m going to assume being a scion comes with a better benefit package than manning the 3-1-1 phones. One of which seems to be an ease of transition into the job of city councillor despite a shocking lack of qualifications (aside from, I’m With Him) and a near debilitating disinterest in the details of the job itself.

And yet Doug Ford would leave all that behind to work at Toronto’s 3-1-1.

No, not really. He just can’t help himself when it comes to mocking and denigrating those he thinks get paid too much or are afforded too much time off. Why? Because of his deep and abiding respect for the taxpayers who just don’t think it’s right that they be forced to pony up to provide services they rarely use or, if they do, pay the actually going rates for. (Hint: roads.) Like his brother mayor, Councillor Ford is simply looking out for the little guy by stripping away their dignity one misinformed question and wisecrack at a time.

can I help yoully submitted by Cityslikr