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Recovering backpacker, Cornwallite at heart, political enthusiast, catalyst, writer, husband, father, community volunteer, unabashedly proud Canadian. Every hyperlink connects to something related directly or thematically to that which is highlighted.

Wednesday 5 February 2014

#TorontoIs - For or Against?

I have been told, repeatedly, that Warren Kinsella is really good at what he does.  It's unquestionably true; he's the man that brought the War Room to Canada.  It could be argued that he in large part shaped a whole generation of politicing in this country.

He's right, too - the video (you'll have to follow the link to his site to see it) is powerful.  It provides a fascinating contrast between some of the diverse landmarks that are so integral to Toronto's identity and the divisive, small-minded politics of Rob Ford.

The point of this video is to demonstrate to Toronto how the world sees this city - not as one of the most diverse places on earth, not as a centre of art, business and culture, but as the playground of Rob Ford, the crack-smoking Mayor.

The video is designed to incite strong, reactive emotions of discomfort, fear, even anger.  This is how the world sees us, it says; we need to do something to change that.

By and large this is how politics functions - we define ourselves as being different than our opponents and work hard to define our opponents as the devil incarnate.  

We have to fight against, the message goes, often with the tagline only Candidate White Hat can defeat/prevent Candidate Black Hat from bringing us down

We don't vote leaders in; we kick bums out.

But there's another way.

Instead of inciting kick-the-bums out re-activeness, we could have leaders that define themselves by their vision, authenticity and commitment to walking the walk.  Calgary has become cool in ways previously unimaginable in no small part due to its Mayor.  

Where Rob Ford talks about promises made and kept that are anything but, Naheed Nenshi is better known for what he does and how he communicates.  We don't need boastful statements; his deeds speak louder than worlds.

No less than Kinsella himself has wistfully wondered, "wouldn't it be nice to have a leader who things big, and does big things, once again?"

I think so.  I know lots of other people who feel the same way.

Being angry and resentful all the time is tiring.  Eventually, disaffection settles in and people come to accept that things won't be any better and that fighting is only going to make things worse.  It's why Canada is suffering through a winter of discontent, complete with hoarding behaviours typical of hibernating creatures.

It's true that Toronto's international reputation is largely being defined by Rob Ford, but it doesn't need to be.  If the people living here, or the people living across Canada were to see amazing, heroic deeds and hear inspirational stories of what we're really about, we may be shaken out of our misanthropic complacency and catalyzed into positive action.

That's the kind of leadership I could get behind.  Don't tell me what's wrong and who's to blame; tell me who's making a difference and give me a vision of how together, we can make our community a place to be proud of.  

Lead, for god's sake.

If you think it's powerful how people will fight when they collectively stand against, you'd be amazed by what they can do when they are united for.

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