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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.

Saturday 9 November 2013

Team Harper Using Plato's Desktop

If true, this wouldn't surprise me a titch.  Unlike Kinsella, though, I don't see a CPC attempted comparison of crack to pot as insane; instead, I see it as reflective of the creative limitations we've seen expressed by Team Harper time and time again.

I call it Plato's Desktop - the tendency to use new tools in traditional ways, rather than adapting your own capacity to the potential of the new thing or approach.  Using a laptop strictly as a word processor would be an example, as would using social media strictly to send out messaging.  

This has been a consistent theme for Team Harper throughout it's various iterations (which should be rather telling); they've gotten louder, they've periodically been highly organized, but they've never done innovative well.


Stephen Harper has had a very narrow focus during his tenor as Prime Minister:

1) Removing any decision-making power that involves actual problem solving as far away from his office as possible;
2) Tough On Crime - increase the number of legal offences, increase the penalties for them and create more institutions to get undesirables off the streets.  Dickens couldn't have done better;

3) Natural Resource Extraction/platitudes about traditional manufacturing - now, I won't hold this entirely against Harper, as Canada on the whole has been lazy on the innovation front.  But seriously - we live in an age where highschool kids are becoming billionaires off of innovative, social-media based content and Harper's Conservatives want the nation to limit itself to hewing wood and hauling water? 
Advanced manufacturing is turning last century's Third World Countries into powerhouses, and they want to lower labour costs to compete for widget-making positions with Bangladesh?

Despite having access to all kinds of internal (i.e. public servant), national (science, innovation hubs, lateral think-tanks) and extra-national (hi, Brazil!) information, Team Harper have been impotent to do anything creative with it.  Even borrowed speeches have been cribbed line-for-line.  While the rest of the world sprints ahead, Canada under Harper keeps backing in to the future.

The areas where Harper can claim credit for some kind of sustainability or breakthrough?  There's the economy, which every speaker at the recent Economic Forum of the Americas credited to work done long before Harper was even leader of the Reform Party.  Then, there's CETA which is not only less exciting (and beneficial) than Team Harper contends, but it also was the work of negotiators not of their partisan ranks.

The things Harper claims credit for?  He didn't built that - he's merely basking in the light of others.


Harper was going to lead us towards a new frontier in accountability and transparency.  Whether he was insincere from the get-go, realized that he couldn't handle that level of scrutiny or perhaps never understood the meaning of the terms in the first place, he's been a bust on all fronts.

But when has Harper's CPC ever tackled an issue head-on, as in really addressing a concern in substantial ways?  Yes, they've increased penalties or reduced regulations, but what have they actually solved?  We get bullet-point messaging that ignores the intent of questions or bait-and-switch attacks, but solutions?  Not so much.  

Yes, this is the way politics has been done, but Harper promised to do politics differently, just as he promised to reform the Senate.  

He made a lot of big-picture promises that have never come to fruition, largely because they involve consensus-building and innovative solution-framing.

Strategically, Harper planned to make Canada more Conservative, i.e. think the way he did; instead of pushing from the Right and throwing crumbs to the centrists, he's been governing from the Centre and has failed to throw any substantial red meat to his base.

People who hold the terms "senior" and "communications" in their titles will state with (perhaps grudging) admiration that Stephen Harper is a first-rate communicator, which is false; communication doesn't mean what they think it means.  Harper is pretty good at messaging, which is what they're actually referring to.  He can spin a yarn when he has to, though one gets the sense he'd prefer to do something else.  

It's hard to throw Harper off-message (or even off tone, really - the man's a machine when it comes to delivery), but it's even harder to have a meaningful dialogue with him.  

Then, there's the simplistic, white-hat/black-hat messaging favoured by today's Political Right (and far too often the Left).  "With us or with child pornographers" is kind of a "he dies or I die, brother" way of framing the world.  Lefties are bad, SoCons are good.  

Entitlement is bad, passing the buck is pathetic and contemplation (i.e. "committing sociology" is ineptitude.  Corruption is a fatal sin.  Like a nation saying it has no gay people, the Tories claim with ignorant vanity that all sins rest on the opposite side of the political divide, intentionally avoiding their own cognitive dissonance until it smacks them in the face.  

Then, the people who were the faces of their movement are suddenly not Tories.  Until, at least, the folk casting stones realize they live in glass houses, at which point entitlement, passing the buck and asking for consideration of contextual, personal concerns becomes standard operating procedure.


Harper has been hailed as a master of the partisan attack; his foresight is uncanny, his cool unshakable and his ability to fragment his opposition is legendary.  It's a myth, irony of irony, concocted by political people looking for complex "plays" where, in fact, there was simply an inability to do anything else.

Team Harper is a one-trick pony that we've convinced ourselves is the best act in town.

They demonize each opponent in exactly the same way - they are unCanadian, unmanly, unfit to lead.  Never have the Tories gone toe-to-toe with anyone; instead, they stand atop their walls, farting in the general direction of all comers, English pig-dogs and kniggets alike.

It's unfair to say the Langevin Block Boys are comparing apples to oranges, as their shtick is really much simpler.  They find the worst possible denominator and compare their opponents to that without worrying about how much sense it makes ('cause that's a sociology think to worry about).  

In this case, note that it's their former ally Rob Ford they're tossing under the messaging bus.  That's what happens when you live behind a firewall - you eventually run out of anyone else to throw at the barbarians.

It's not that Team Harper feels superior in their positions; rather, they just have a harder time walking in anyone else's shoes.

And finally...


Harper has never strategically weathered a storm; he has consistently pushed off addressing a problem for as long as possible, and when time came to own up passed the buck.  His distancing himself from responsibility over the Senate Scandal is really no different than his visit to Rideau Hall in 2008.  At the very least, Harper has owned up a little; back then, he projected his own feelings when he said Canadians didn't care about how Parliament worked.  At least now Harper's admitting it's really him that doesn't care what others say.

His legendary self-discipline?  When you have the exact same presentation whether you're dropping your kid off at school, in Parliament or giving a speech (or, truly, with no variation between speeches) this is not discipline; it's functional fixedness.

There's nothing crazy about the current CPC approach - that would imply the ability to surprise us with the unexpected.  If anything, Team Harper has been totally consistent.  Alas, an inability to evolve isn't a strategy - at best, it's delaying the inevitable.

Friday 8 November 2013

Steph Guthrie, Meet Gord Perks

Politics is a blood sport, or so they tell us.  So, what do we know about blood sports?  They inflict wounds, for one; you can make a lot of money if you cling to the notion of being the last man standing, but what are you left with?  Brain damage, physical injury - an fractured shell and all the trials that come with it.

Jim Flaherty has dished out his fair share of political poison, full-well knowing he'd receive his hits in return.  He was playing by the standard rules of the game; they die, or you die, in ad infinitum.  

But Flaherty is also a man who has faced unexpected and undeserved adversity in his life.  He soldiers on, because there's not much else any of us can do - on our own.  

Are we, though?  On our own, trying to live up to survival-of-the-fittest model, putting the health of the economy before (or at the expense of) the people it is meant to bolster?

Here's Steph Guthrie:

Gender diversity, ethnic diversity, etc. and so on - what we want, if we really believe in democracy, is representation of the population.  That doesn't mean a narrow selection of financial policy targets or a tug-of-war between binary partisan views; it means a true reflection of the various lineages of our country and perspectives that inform them.

You don't get there through anger; in fact, anger gets you the exact opposite; entrenched views, dehumanization of The Other and a tendency to ridicule and attack rather than listen and contemplate.  

Now for Gord Perks:

This hasn't been the way we do politics for some time.  In fact, politics is about seeking out and attacking opponents before they even think about lining up at the starting gate.  Politics-as-usual isn't very democratic, is it?  Which is why our democracy crumbles.

To the elbows-up practicioners of War Room politics, I say this is the end.  Hold your breath and count to ten.  Feel the earth move?  

It doesn't mean the sky will fall; in fact, like with any birthing pains, it means new horizons lie just beyond vision.

Don't be afraid.  As the walls come down between us, we'll realize there's more than just blood between us - and together, we will stand tall.

The Fall of Rob Ford - Not a Human Tragedy, but a Lack of Leadership

If the Premier is referring to Ford's family - folks like, say his brother or his mom and sister - they aren't giving him that advice.  The people that should truly love him, i.e. be putting his well-being first are letting him down, spectacularly.

What about the people in his political circle who have their own credibility on the line?  Tim Hudak continues to do a partisan dance, not wanting to risk fallout from proactivley intervening with the Fords and also probably hedging his bets that they'll pull through this, and therefore still be able to raise money for his Party.

Current Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly hopes platitudes will satiate the media while former Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday suggests Ford "get help" but clearly isn't prepared to intervene directly.  He's got a new job, after all - his old friend is no longer his business.

There's talk of motions at City Hall, but those are to remove Ford from office, thereby making him someone else's problem.  That's a bit like throwing an addict in jail to put them out of sight and mind, or offing someone that's too hard to communicate with.

Harper is absolutely keeping his distance; he's got enough brand problems to deal with as it is and sees Ford as an unnecessary liability, now - though that wasn't the case when the PM needed Mayor's help.

Premier Wynne is someone who actually does care, but she's also Leader of a minority government facing down opponents who will do anything to undermine her credibility and lead to an election.  The last time she opened her mouth with words of concern, she was pilloried - by Ford's brother, the man who more than anyone else on earth should have been the one sharing those words with the Mayor.

Under those circumstances, no Party Leader with electoral victory in mind would want to intervene.

In summary - Ford's family are in denial, Ford's Council allies are obfuscating while his Council enemies smell blood in the water and are going for the throat, so to speak.  Ford's conservative allies at other levels have either abandoned him entirely or are keeping their distance, hedging their bets as to whether the Fords can still be useful to them or have become a liability.  Everyone else is staying as far away from the Mayor as possible.

Put yourself in Ford's shoes.  Faced with a growing recognition that you aren't fit for the role you love and recognizing that truly, you stand alone in front of the international spotlight, what do you do?  He's lost his football team, he's lost his friends, he's lost his reputation - his title is really all that he has left.

When you have nothing left to lose, you are in a very vulnerable state.

As I've been saying for months and more people are saying now, this won't end well - unless someone steps in and demonstrates some true, tough, non-judgemental love for Ford and takes him by the hand. 

But all this could have been prevented if somewhere along the line, one of those people who Ford respects as an equal had put the man before the opportunity.  Ford should have gotten help a long time ago; all of this could have been avoided.  But that would have meant his family and allies would have had to risk their standing with the Mayor or their public reputation on the line.  

Calling this "a human tragedy" is unfair, as it lets all of Ford's enablers off the hook.  This is truly a tragedy of the commons - a symptom of a diseased political system that puts partisan success over sound choices and where our politicians are pilloried for being human, creating false expectations for the public and their peers.

We don't have leaders that do sacrifice these days - which makes me question whether we have any leaders at all.

UPDATE - with all the sensational, salacious stuff that's come out of both police reports and the Mayor's own mouth, this piece hasn't gotten as much attention as it should:
Rob Ford's the younger brother of a domineering, potentially sociopathic brother.  Rob has a couple people he idolizes - including PM Harper, who's turned his back on him and his father, now deceased.  Whatever Ford tells Council/the media/himself, he clearly knows that he is a disappointment to the legacy.
Ford has lost his beloved football team and his position as Mayor is under threat.  All of his dirty laundry, behaviours he seems not to have been able to control, are being laid bare. 
On some level it's gotta be hard for Ford to live with himself, but he's functionally fixed; to back down would be to show weakness.  In his mind, he has no choice but to face his doom head-on.
Calling staff in tears from your dad's gravesite easily fits the broader pattern of behaviour we've seen here.

Thursday 7 November 2013

Rob Ford in the Ring: An Alternative Interpretation of the Murder Video

Rob Ford is making a lot of headlines these days.  Of course, he's giving the headlines a lot of reason to favour him; lies, crack-smoking admissions, police surveillance, bad friends - the list goes on to now apparently include threatening murder.

But in his latest video escapade, was Ford really threatening to murder someone, or was he trash-talking, kinda like Patrick Brazeau likes to do? (there are a lot of personality similarities between the two)

We don't have context for this video, nor do we have anything to suggest when it was filmed.

Despite Ford telling us he was drunk while threatening to rip someone's throat out, his behaviour appears more cracked out than inebriated (I take this from the Toronto Sun; I myself have never seen a person high on crack).  The full transcript of the video, which has obviously been edited, can be found here.

Ford himself has suggested he only smoked crack one time and wasn't cogent at the time that he did.  I think it's fair to say the Mayor's credibility is shot at this point, so his word doesn't mean much.  Having said that, we can still dig a little deeper into his general drug-use behaviour, courtesy of all the police material about his drug-dealer friend Sandro Lisi.

The Toronto Police have clearly spent a lot of time following Lisi and Ford.  Surveillance photos of the two together have been released.  Lisi was busted for trafficking a Schedule II Substance (i.e. marijuana), not for trafficking a Schedule I Substance (like cocaine).  The guy who was charged with trafficking cocaine is Jamshid Bahrami, the dry-cleaner.  

His name hasn't gained the traction Lisi's had - if there was any photo evidence linking Bahrami to Ford, I'm sure he'd be a bit more famous right now.

So, if we go on what we have, it's clear that Ford spent a lot of time with a guy who dealt in weed; we don't have any suggested evidence that he fraternized to the same degree with a crack dealer.

We do know that Ford did smoke crack - he has said so himself.  There has been no release of information from the police that suggests a regular pattern of access to crack (just the Mary Jane).  So, what context do we have around the one recorded time the Mayor did smoke crack?

That brings us back to the account of The Crack Video as provided by Robyn Doolittle and Kevin Donovan of the Toronto Star.  In their account, which has so far been vindicated, the reporters told us that Ford made homophobic comments about Justin Trudeau.  

This led to the suggestion that the video was likely filmed at a time when Trudeau was in the headlines (so that the filmer, who may not be as hooked on politics as some of us, would have had Trudeau's name fresh in his mind).  Such times include Trudeau's Liberal Leadership win, and that time he kicked Patrick Brazeau's ass in a boxing ring

What is the main throughline of Ford's comments (and those of the guy egging him on) in the new crack video?

Ford: 'Cause I'm going to kill that fucking guy.  I'm telling you it's first-degree murder.

Voice off-camera: Mike Tyson!

Ford: But I'll fight him.

Ford says he's going to kill a guy in a one-on-one competition and the off-camera voice shouts out the name of a boxer with a violent reputation.  "I'll fight him", Ford says.

Ford: I just need to go fucking myself.  In my fucking underwear.  I want to go with this guy.  I just need 15 minutes, that's all.  No fucking interference, brother.  If I win, I'll fucking donate...

Go himself... into the ring?  Wearing underwear for boxing shorts?  No interference, as in don't help him once he's in?  He needs 15 minutes in the ring?  What was going to happen to the money raised for the fight - as I recall, it was going to be donated to a charity.

Voice: Five minutes.

Ford: No no no.  Not going to do it for five.  I'm gonna prepare for it.  I will call it.  And I will fucking be in that ring.

There's a line about the boys being pros, too - well, both Trudeau and Brazeau had previous fight training, so that's kinda what they are.

What if Ford's bizarre rant that mentions him in his underwear was trashtalk about what he'd do if he were to square off with Justin Trudeau in a boxing ring?  

There's anecdotal evidence that it might not have been filmed the same day as the first video; according to Kevin Donovan, Ford was wearing a white shirt, top button open in that one - no mention of a tie, which does disappear by the third clip. 

Now, to me the shirt Ford's wearing in Video #2 video looks soft blue, but lighting can confuse the two.  What do you think?  What do Donovan and Doolittle think?

The tie could have come off later, when they retired to the basement.  Or, it could have been another day, but around the same time the Trudeau/Brazeau fight was in the headlines.  Either way, it suggests that Video #2 was filmed before the whole crack-smoking story came to light.

Granted, the connections aren't airtight - there's the crack, the Trudeau/possible Trudeau boxing references and the potential that the guy egging on in similar ways/filming Ford is the same in both.
There's the by-election reference, too - which could have been leading in to the August by-election that Ford's former Deputy Mayor won (at one point late in 2012, Rob's Councillor brother Doug Ford considered running for the seat).

Add to this some basic sales - if it's already out there that Ford smoked crack/called Trudeau a fag, how much money can you expect to get for a video that just repeats an old message?  Editing it a bit so that it sounds like Ford's threatening to kill someone, however, gives you a new product and something the Star clearly felt was worth buying.

If that's the case, I think it's fair to say Video #2 doesn't bring anything new to the table (like a direct connection to the murder of Anthony Smith, though it doesn't disprove such a link either) - it merely expands on the existing sad story of a disturbed man.

Which is, in my mind, the whole point.  Ford is a mess - he has substance abuse issues that are killing him as he tries to cope with a position that's out of his league (which might just be why he's having substance abuse problems in the first place).  That's been the case since day one.

While we wait for the latest zinger to come out, heaping more shame on our Mayor, the man beneath the chain continues to wither.

Jon Stewart said it best:

Ford's down, but he's not out - yet.  If he does die it's because we, his enablers and ridiculers both, stood back and let it happen.

Nobody will be joking about murder then.

Wednesday 6 November 2013

Canada's Burning Platform

It doesn't seem like it was that long ago that there was talk of the death of the Liberal Party and the ascendancy of the Political Right almost to the point of dynasty.

A day in politics, eh?

Rob Ford is still Mayor and Toronto is now an internationally recognized city, though the 15 minute hit isn't proving to be what it was cracked up to be.  Meanwhile, less and less gets done while the Mayor retreats further and further into a delusional bubble of deceit, self and otherwise.

The same holds true for that Machiavellian master of political string-pulling, Stephen Harper.  His allies are distancing himself and his reputation is irreparably tarnished.  At the same time the explosion of Canada's Senate has put actual governing on hold, says John Ivison.

It's the role of Opposition Parties to stall the government's agenda, forcing nothing to happen enough to piss off and frighten voters/stakeholders into changing their allegiances.  But now we have two of our most visible political leaders throwing the entire country under the bus.

Meanwhile, opportunities are being lost, structural problems are being left to fester and our brand, as a nation, has seen better days.  Oh - and the people are starting to get angry.

And it's not over.  This is going to get worse before it gets better.

The whole gory story could have been avoided, sadly; I've done my best to offer alternatives and point out what will happen should folk like Harper and Ford stay the course.

Prognosticators like me can but hold open the door - they have to choose to walk through.

Where's the Adult in the Room? (UPDATED)

That's a line being echoed by politicians across the city, province and even at the national level.  Rob Ford needs to get help.  We can't do anything while City Hall falls apart but gosh, if only Rob does the right thing, the situation will stop spiralling.
Who honestly thinks that the Mayor is capable of making sound choices at this point?  If he can't - what does his intransigence do to the constituents of all three levels of government that live in Canada's Biggest City and an economic hub?
By focusing on Ford, the politician, there is far too much neglect on the environment he finds himself.  While everyone latches on to the crack-smoking and slurs of the formerly alleged video, Ford apparently also says "I'm supposed to be this great Right..." - leader?  Icon?  Holier-than-though figurehead?  What image is Rob Ford holding himself up to and not measuring up to, suffering from the internal turmoil this failure brings?  Doug Ford, Senior?
Ford is clearly out of his league and responding the way anyone who sees quitting as a weakness would - by buckling under the strain and turning to abusive behaviours for release.  Everyone knows it, everyone sees it; some even make suggestions to the man he kinda maybe should do something - but there are no real consequences if he doesn't, are there?
Throughout his Mayoralty, he's been enabled by his closest peers and touted as the beachhead for a new conservative movement.  The Prime Minister, who Ford clearly idolizes, have given him the time of day when convenient - and backed away when it wasn't.
Politics is full of fair-weather friends but because he's such a polarizing figure, Ford has more than most.  They're there, then they're gone, then they're back again once the latest political storm has been weathered.
Then there are his enemies, people who see him as a cancer to be removed, rather than as a human being in desperate need of someone, anyone to step in and give him permission to step back.  The sorts of solutions to The Ford Problem I'm hearing discussed on the street are alarming, to say the least, and have no place in a democratic environment.  But then we don't live in a democratic environment.
Worst of all, there is Doug Ford, the manipulative big brother with ambitions that are bigger than his sibling.  It's Doug that carries the name of their father; it's Doug who is elder, Doug who seems less apt to fall apart when things get tough.  Rob idolizes Doug; if there was anyone in Ford's life who could truly take Rob by the shoulders and make him face reality, it would be his big brother - but that doesn't appear to fit into his plans, does it?
Rob Ford is in a trap with, in his mind, no way out.  To admit defeat is to admit weakness, to let his enemies win, to give up on his agenda, to let down the legacy of his dad and to disappoint his big brother.  He can possibly weather this storm, too, but the Good Ship Ford has taken a beating - how long can it possibly hold up?  His enemies are against him, his enablers tell him to pay no heed - meanwhile, Ford the man is starting to crack.
By wringing their hands about the consequences to Toronto - but not so much that they're willing to risk personal electoral risks should they intervene - political leaders at all levels are washing their hands of responsibility. 
Sorry, folks, but blood doesn't clean off that easily.
Yes, addicts need to cross the threshold from denial into acceptance and submission, but having nobody who cares about him intervene in a frank, non-judgemental way makes that next to impossible.  Meanwhile, Rome burns as Nero fiddles.
It's time one of these "the buck stops here" leaders actually puts the public good before partisan fortunes and takes the risk of doing the right thing.
If they're truly leaders, then their own fortunes shouldn't be a priority.  Leadership is about obsolesce, which is achieved through empowerment.  Empowerment requires trust, engagement and patience, but it also means facing the tough truths and redirecting when necessary.
Someone has to step above the fray and be the adult in the room.  That's the leadership we want, and Rob Ford needs.
I'm not holding my breath that anyone will step up before it's too late, at which point it'll be a very different conversation we'll be having.

Tuesday 5 November 2013

Political Mule: The Ford Effect Continues

                          - Captain Pritchard, Foundation and Empire

Political people often like to think of themselves as a class apart; they feel, if not openly express, a "we are smart, they are dumb" perception of the public.  Whereas the public can be swayed with carefully scripted attack messages and are supposed to lap up spin like animals at a shrinking water hole, they are immune to populist pandering.  Where lesser mortals and lesser candidates will leap at the latest shiny new bobble, they have the discipline to stay the course.

If you have too many priorities, you have no priorities.  If you stand behind whoever is in the limelight, you will wither in their shadow.

Enter Rob Ford, stage centre - for their can be no creeping into the frame where he is concerned.

I remember sitting in a boardroom just before to the municipal election that propelled Ford to victory; the sentiment being expressed by the high-priced consultants around the table was that it was quite likely Ford would win.  "Don't worry," they told themselves; "he's kind of a buffoon.  We'll totally be able to work that to our advantage."

That sentiment has been shared by many of Ford's bedfellows over his action-packed term as Mayor.  Politics is all about winning, after all - if you can bask in the light shone on a superstar, that's an opportunity not to be missed.

Make no mistake - many of those who have cosied up to Ford in public will call him a clown behind his back; they seem him as a resource to benefit from, not a person nor an equal.  When things seem to turn against Ford, they will back away, as political people will do - bad press is a contagion they never, ever want to catch.  

But whenever Ford survives his latest scandal, they're back, increasingly cow-towing to his two-dimensional vision of what the city should look like.  As such, people who should know better, who make a living preaching the long-game, have been aligning themselves with Ford, cribbing his language and his messages.  

In other words, the clown has become the ringmaster.  

Whatever happened to that unshakable discipline of the experienced political veterans?  How is it that their own visions, if there were visions, have been so easily discarded in favour of the house of cards that is Ford Nation?  What message does this acquiescence send to the general public about the priorities of politicians in Ford's orbit?  

Rob Ford is stubborn, undisciplined, bullish, petulant and functionally fixed in his presentation.  He also, rather demonstrably, has personal issues that those trying to gain from his brand are making worse through their neglect of Ford, the man.  Yet he is unquestionably one of the most influential political figures on the provincial landscape today.

There's a significant, uncomfortable lesson in this for today's political leaders.  Yes, the Fords have coarsened our politics, but they've been in the gutter for some time already.  If anything, the Mayor serves as a mirror, darkly, reflecting back to the political class how far too many people see them as a whole.

It's time our political leaders and the people that support them take a good, hard look at themselves and question whether they have been deluding themselves.

In this, Rob Ford can hopefully serve as a catalyst for some much-needed political introspection.  If the people who think they in charge, aren't, then perhaps the people whose advice they have been wilfully ignoring aren't as foolish as once believed.

After all, we are all mortal; we're players on the same stage, whether we choose to play it that way or not.

By refusing to budge, refusing to change and by lashing out at everyone who points out his flaws, Rob Ford has given the rest of us the best possible reason to start doing the opposite.

Forward, together - there's no priority more basic than that.

Monday 4 November 2013

Cognitive Labour: Si, Podemos

Why yes; yes, we can.

We've always had people who've talked this line; what's really encouraging now is that we have leaders actually understanding the process and walking The Way, too.

False leaders make us feel fear and suggest only they can keep us safe from harm; true leaders seek out new horizons and inspire us to boldly follow.

It's a good thing to be conscious of.

Sunday 3 November 2013

Brothers Ford

Doug on Rob's drinking, now:

Ford and his brother, Coun. Doug Ford, also spoke about the mayor's intent to alter his drinking habits.

Doug on Rob's drinking, then:

"I've never seen Rob drink at any event.  Ever."

Clearly, Ford the Councillor hasn't been totally honest.  Due to the Fords' take-no-prisoners approach to politics, disregard for protocol and general rough-around-the-edges personalities, the assumption from those who vilify them is that they are thugs, pure and simple.  Every move they make is either in pursuit of their narrow interests or to intentionally flip the bird at the public/public institutions/groups they don't like.

All of that probably plays into the choices they make, but remember - these aren't aliens from another planet.  The Fords are as human as any of us.  It also happens that they're related.

It's not often you have siblings working that close together in politics, so there's a tendency, I think, to ignore the bigger impact of their personal relationship on their shared relationship with the public.

If Ford the younger falls, it's a mark on their family name and the reputation of their father.  Even more important to consider, Robbie is Doug's younger brother.  That's normally a special relationship, with a sense of responsibility on the part of the older one.

There may be a part of Doug that sees himself as a failure for his brother's challenges, which appear to consistently be greater than his own.  Doug's spokesperson role is a defensive one, almost a "you leave my poor brother alone" approach.  Maybe he doesn't know what else to do and feels powerless to help his brother.

It's worth considering that as much as Doug has been misrepresenting the facts to the public, he might just as well being doing the same with himself.