The Incurious Case of Mayor Rob Ford

June 8, 2011

We have developed a complicated relationship with our elected leaders. On one hand, we want them to be firm, resolute, strong in their convictions. On the other hand, we don’t like when they get all uppity and know-it-allish. Mr. Smarty Pants thinks he’s smarter and better than the rest of us. Imagine being forced to sit down and have a beer with him. Bo-r-r-r-r-r-r-ing!

Thus, we have creatures lurching up at us from the reactionary lagoon like George W. Bush, Sarah Palin, Rob Ford — faux-populists – capturing a wave of support with their simplistic world views and down home mutterings that convince us that they’re just one of us. They’re looking out for us. They have our best interests at heart.

We want our leaders to have answers. They just don’t have to be the right answers. Hell, they don’t even need to make a lick of sense. Just blurt them out forcefully with no sign of wavering or hesitation.

Having all the answers means never posing questions or contemplating issues. Why bother? It’s just a big waste of time. I know what I know and everything else is pretty much m’eh. Eggheads need not apply. Stay up in your ivory towers where you can’t inflict your voodoo rational discourse and logic based reason on the hard working taxpayers of this city, province, nation.

So it should hardly come as a surprise that our mayor, His Honour Rob Ford, couldn’t be arsed to attend last weeks Federation of Canadian Municipalities conference in Halifax. What is anyone there going to tell him that he doesn’t already know? Did he really need to spend 4 days or so in some tiny city without an NFL franchise to find out that the answer is nothing more than Stop The Gravy Train? Send QB Mammoliti instead. He’s better at pretending to listen to other peoples’ opinions.

While it might be unrealistic to think that the official mayor would learn anything of value from a long weekend conference as he notoriously has trouble sitting through a day long meeting without developing a severe case of ants in his pants, why not send the actual mayor, Brother Doug, the so-called smart one, to take his spot? I mean, they kind of look a like. He could’ve said he was Mayor Ford and many of the non-Torontonians in attendance would be none the wiser.

A rookie on the municipal politics scene, it might’ve offered an opportunity for Councillor Ford to familiarize himself with the terrain, get the lay of the land, reach out and touch other urban leaders. Even as a token gesture to show that Toronto, the country’s biggest city, is taking municipal issues seriously. You know, lie. Keeping up appearances and all that.

But maybe Councillor Ford was too busy, fielding all those calls from outraged taxpayers, indignant that some charity thingie had blocked their god-given right to drive on the Gardiner and DVP for a few hours on the weekend. Maintaining a constant vigil to ensure motorists’ freedoms aren’t being trampled on is a full time job. Leaves little time to go off hob-knobbing with all those per-fesser, conference attending types who’ve never held a real job in their lives.

“Learning and innovation go hand in hand. The arrogance of success is to think that what you did yesterday will be sufficient for tomorrow” – William Pollard.

Arrogance is debilitating especially when mixed with an unhealthy dose of incuriosity. Leaving your own assumptions unchallenged gives you the answers you’re looking for but invariably limits your options. In individuals, it’s tiresome. In our elected representatives, it’s deliberate sabotage of the public discourse.Those sort of politicians aren’t looking out for our best interests. How could they be? They’d have to know what our best interests might be in the first place and to do that they’d have to start asking questions they don’t already know the answers to.

posingly posted by Urban Sophisticat