Playing A Part

August 15, 2011

I’m going to go all Tom Stoppard Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead on your asses today and focus my attention on a bit player in the tragicomedy that is our current municipal affairs. By now, we are all acquainted with the main characters in this particular farce, Mayor Rob Ford and Sun News personality, Sue-Ann Levy. But look past the soft-headed, softball questions and pat answers that are still surprisingly struggled through and focus hard on the glaringly apparent third wheel on what is supposed to be a bicycle built for two.

What the hell is Pat Bolland doing on the stage?

The mayor is pure exposition, playing the unreliable narrator in his tale of a city on the road to wrack and ruin through profligate spending. “We’re $774 million in the hole.” Actually no, Your Honour. That’s called an operating budget albeit a portion of it you resent having to fork over to artists, break-taking city bureaucrats and all other NDP types looking for free money from the hardworking taxpayers. Take a grain of salt with everything this guy says because he’s always taking more than a few liberalities with the truth.

Then there’s Ms. Levy. She is… how to put it delicately?… this drama’s fluffer. Her sole task? To keep the narrative, errrr, pointed in the right direction. Like some ironically named character in a Restoration play — Madam Irene Irony, let’s call her — she employs said literary device without knowing she’s actually doing so. She bids the mayor to speak of the wounds inflicted upon his person from the personal attacks that have never before been seen down at City Hall. What’s that you say about personal attacks, Ms. Levy? Oh she said scribe of Silly Socialist Hall and His Blondeness. Union leaders as mob bosses. All valid political critiques since they don’t make fun of anyone’s weight.

When the mayor invites the media to go with him to the city festivals he does attend, Ms. Levy simply lets pass the opportunity to mention the one bunch of festivities Mayor Ford conspicuously avoided and that she had called him out on in print. Pride. Don’t make the mayor agitated or angry. He might not come back on the show if you do that. Oh, Mayor Ford. I can never stay mad at you.

Putting the mayor on the hotseat is obviously the job for Pat Bolland. I mean, why else would he be there? But here’s essentially what Mr. Bolland does during the course of the 13 and a half minute interview. INTRO: He’s the most polarizing mayor… yaddie, yaddie, yaddie. Followed by a couple minutes of silence. Then, laugh, laugh… laugh, laugh. His first question is interrupted by Sue-Ann. He apologizes and gives way. Keep talking, guys. As if I’m not even here. Laugh, laugh… laugh, laugh.

Finally, he seizes the moment. It’s Pat Bolland’s turn. Now comes the grilling of the mayor.

Question 1: Are you prioritizing cuts, Mr. Mayor? Of course. Police are getting pay increases. Grass cutters can go get stuffed. Question 2: What’s been your toughest challenge? (See Mayor Ford’s response to the exact same question asked weeks ago by Stephen LeDrew.) Question 3 & 4. Why do you give so much access to people who just disagree with you, Mr. Mayor?

Sue-Ann fawns. Pat Bolland toadies. The two acts are almost indistinguishable except that one comes from the lips with a moustache over them. Perhaps the thinking with the braintrust of Sun News is that by giving the appearance of being ever so slightly less sycophantic tricks the audience into believing that he’s actually being hard-assed. It’s all relative, you see. By not sticking his head all the way up Mayor Ford’s ass as Sue-Ann Levy appears willing to do, Pat Bolland fulfills his role as seemingly critical of the mayor.

Showing you both sides of the story. Fair and balanced. We report. You decide. Or whatever actual blather the Sun News wants to employ in an attempt to convince us that they’re actually a news and information organization.

By the twisted logic of Sun News, as a former CBCer (like fellow ‘Sun Newser’ Brian Dunstan), Bolland must be a left winger. Ezra Levant says so. The CBC is a state run organization. Therefore anyone whoever worked for the Mother Corp must be sympathetic to the cause. Ergo, Bolland is naturally an adversary of someone like Mayor Ford.

But why waste money paying the talent? Sun News should simply prop up cardboard cutouts of left wing bogeymen that so unsettle the likes of Sue-Ann Levy. Tommy Douglas. The kin of the Lewis clan including those married into the family. Go whole hog. Karl Marx. Joseph Stalin. Mao. Perched silently beside the other two-dimensional personality who fill space and time on the network, spouting the company line. Lots of fun could be had putting words into their mouths, using funny accents.

It would be no less informative than the current format not to mention a lot less embarrassing watching real people pretending to be something they’re not.

playfully submitted by Cityslikr


The Day Conservatism Died

April 19, 2011

Does anyone know the exact date when conservatism ceased operations as a productive, positive contributor to society? At what point of time in its supposed illustrious history did it stop offering up ideas and solutions that consisted of more complex notions than could fit perfectly on a placard, bumper sticker or that a two year-old could remember and recite? Was it a sudden jolt like a meteor strike that made the post-Enlightenment air toxic to the more progressives in their movement or did they just gradually rid themselves of reason, rational thought and a belief in the common good?

Was the last true conservative of the Burkian mold in the plane with Buddy Holly that fateful night in February 1959?

We know traditional political conservatism has been under attack in the U.S. since the crushing defeat of Barry Goldwater in the 1964 presidential election. It was put on the endangered list under Richard Nixon and the last species spotted during the Reagan Revolution. Our parents and grandparents and great-grandparents’ conservatism went extinct when George W. Bush move into the Oval Office in January 2001.

But here in Canada, conservatism survived a little longer, dying a slower death. Perhaps it was fatally infected with the 1988 Free Trade Deal and our closer integration with the United States. The ‘neo’ in neo-conservatism began to rub off on us. With the rise of western alienation, the Reform Party and Alberta with its U.S. style conservatism as an oil producing, economic force. The progressive in the Progressive Conservative leaked away, lapped up by the Jean Chretien-Paul Martin Liberals, eager to bolster their right flank.

Ontario dipped its toe into the new conservative waters when it embraced Mike Harris’s Common Sense Revolution in the mid-90s, rejecting and ultimately putting a bullet in the head of the red Toryism that had ruled the land for over 40 years until 1985. After 8 years, the province return to its traditional progressive conservative roots when it elected Liberal Dalton McGuinty. The actual Progressive Conservative now exists in name only.

Unlike their neo-conservative soul mates at the federal level who, with the PC-Canadian Alliance/Reform Party amalgamation, jettisoned any last vestige of progressive thought or policy. Finally, it’s Morning in Canada. Government is not the solution to our problems. Government is the problem. Taxes are bad. Science is bad. Peacekeeping is for pussies. In-depth gathering of data in order to more thoroughly define and guide public policy is an invasion of privacy and must be eliminated. An added bonus if you’re planning to build more prisons and get tougher on crime in the face of evidence pointing to dropping rates of criminal behaviour.

Statistics and facts be damned when we’ve got naked ideology to propel us forward back to the 17-century!

It wasn’t too long ago that kind of political thinking would’ve relegated you to the fringes. Yet now the Conservatives are within serious striking distance of securing a majority victory, able to count on a third of the electorate for steadfast support for what can only be described as an antediluvian outlook. Hell, in the so-called liberal hotbed of Toronto, nearly 50% of the voters rallied behind Rob Ford – the poster child for narrow-minded, anti-government, pithy slogans as policy platforms politicians — as their choice for mayor last fall. We are now in the process of witnessing up close and personal just much how respect we taxpayers should expect from neo-conservative politicians.

Which, judging by the craziness going on to the south of us at the hands of the self-proclaimed Tea Party movement, should be next to nil. The thing is, when conservatives abandoned their core principle as stated by Glen Worthington, “…the essence of conservatism lies not in a body of theory, but in the disposition to maintain those institutions seen as central to the beliefs and practices of society”, the day traditional conservatism died, all bets were off. Neo-conservatives bear no responsibility to anyone aside from themselves. What’s good for them as individuals is good for society. End stop. Edmund Burke and the like deposed by Ayn Rand. Ask not what your country can do for you because it’s going to do fuck all. And certainly don’t ask what you can do for your country as, well, that would just be an imposition, an impingement of my individual freedom and liberty.

And those of us not sharing that particularly libertarian worldview have much blame to shoulder for the current conservative-less situation. By accepting any tenets of the faith, from its creeping anti-governmentalism to the bogus trickle-down economic theory, we lent it credibility and gave it traction. We helped make the lunatic acceptable and now find ourselves having to defend against what is essentially an alternate reality where up is down, black is white and tax cuts generate increased revenue for the public purse.

An alternate reality where the likes of Ezra Levant are considered worthy of having a spot on television to discuss politics. Yes, as a matter of fact, he did compare the CBC to a North Korean state run broadcast. With a straight face!

Watching what I could stomach of yesterday’s launch of Sun TV, two words immediately sprung to mind: cable access. Back when honest to god conservatism was still alive and well, that’s where crackpots like Mr. Levant et al would’ve been relegated if they wanted to air their fetid, malignant views out in public. Or a soapbox in the corner of a park.While it may be difficult to pinpoint exactly how it is traditional conservatism died, I think we can officially call time of death. It was April 18th 2011, 4:30pm EDT.

sympathetically submitted by Cityslikr