"Cowardice asks the question...is it safe? Expediency asks the question...is it politic? Vanity asks the question...is it popular? But conscience asks the question...is it right? And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular but one must take it because it is right." ~Dr. Martin Luther King

Friday 8 November 2013

Well Worth Repeating

Christopher Watts has left a new comment on your post "Election is the only option":

Here is Toronto City Councillor Gord Perks response when asked how council should move Toronto forward (this was provided following Rob Ford's radio show apology on Sunday - so before the crack smoking admission and tape of the mayor screaming about how he wants to kill someone):

"Many people are asking me to work to remove Mayor Ford from office. To the core of my being I believe it should not be up to elected officials to remove each other from office.

It is axiomatic that in a democracy the community elects its government. It must also be up to the community to remove its government and replace it with another – through elections. Anything that displaces the electorate's power to choose its government is anti-democratic. Further, our system wisely allows for a range of different points of view in government. If we allow elected officials to force each other out of office, we risk having elected officials who oppose the majority view being pushed out of office. History is replete with examples of how bad that is for a society.

Both before and during the previous election, it was clear that Rob Ford was racist, homophobic, and had problems with substance abuse and honesty. Nevertheless he won the election. We, all of us who care about justice and democracy, need to ask ourselves why this happened.

I have what I believe is part of the answer. It is increasingly common for people and institutions to succumb to anger, resentment, and an urge to punish government for real and perceived failings. Ironically, it was this very anger that helped elect Rob Ford Mayor. Recall the relentless attacks he made as a Councillor and mayoralty candidate on factually small but symbolically large uses of Councillor's office budgets, and his mantra about ending the so called "Gravy Train".

This style of politics draws on the slogans of people like Ronald Regan who said "Government is the problem" and Margaret Thatcher who said "There is no alternative". Nonsense! Government is the tool we build together to solve problems. Its precise function is to find alternatives that bring us to a better future. Theirs is a politics of resentment and anger. Reject it.
When we succumb to that anger, important questions about how to build the City we want are lost and forgotten. For the record, I am not immune to this anger. Over three years of resisting the ugliest parts of the Mayor's assault on good governance I have on occasion lost my temper and have twice decided I had to apologise to Council. Frequently, I have to remind myself to step back and count to ten and remember that I am here to build the City. I am not here to get into pointless conflict. It's hard to do, but essential that I do it.

I want to ask you to count to ten. When you are angry at your government, remember that quick, anger-fuelled solutions usually make problems worse. When a neighbour expresses anger over a real or perceived failure of the government or public servants, speak up and remind them that so much of what holds our society together depends on those same public servants. They work to make sure that we have the comforts and community we all enjoy. When government does not solve the social problems that bring suffering to neighbourhoods, resolve not to grumble but instead to learn, participate, and organize for a better government.
Most of all spend some portion of every month – even just one hour – doing political work to ensure that we don't elect angry anti-democratic leadership to govern this wonderful City that is our home."

I agree that a 4 year term has proven itself counterproductive and would like to see some debate surface about returning to a 2 year term.


Christopher Watts said...

Should anyone be interested in following the conversation Gord Perks has been active on twitter @gordperks and this email was just run in the Huffington Post:

awaiting Anonymous rant about Huffington Post

Anonymous said...

Here follow two letters to the editor that are in today's Globe and Mail.

"Re Our Toxic Mayor Is A Crisis For The City (Nov.7): There is more than one politician the following excerpt could apply to: "An armchair psychologist would probably diagnose him with a narcissistic personality disorder - characterized by a nasty combination of boastfulness, entitlement, arrogant behaviour, hypersensitivity, anger issues, and an inability to recognize other people's points of view. These traits mask a deep sense of insecurity. People like this tend to blame everyone but themselves."

Give you three guesses. You may not need the last two."

"Margaret Wente's amateur diagnosis of Rob Ford is on the money. But arrested development should be added to narcissistic personality disorder. Our city has essentially been run by a 15-year-old."

Written by a Psychotherapist.

You can't put the genie back in the bottle once it escapes.

Anonymous said...

Nothing wrong with Huffington Post but you are quite right. Your source will be unacceptable to the resident petulant pedant.

Anonymous said...

If everyone had to take a leave of absence due to substance abuse in City Hall, that building would probably be almost empty.

Anonymous said...


If you are to access it read the op-ed column in today's G&M by Richard Florida.

Anonymous said...

Thank you - I think. What a day ! Take care.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps Gord Perks can offer an opinion on why he is always at the top or close to it in annual spending its a topic that drives the primadonna ballistic