Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Our long civic nightmare is over - or is it?

I was out over the weekend, having drinks (probably too many of them) but attempting to explain why there's a large part of me that is, for lack of a better word, often ashamed to be a Canadian right now.

I suppose it's safe for me to say that I'm far from a supporter of our current federal government, or the current (at least until the end of yesterday) Mayor of Toronto.  But it's not just that they're right-wing and I'm not, it's more about the ways in which Canadians have become so much pettier and meaner than I recall growing up, and how our current governments often reflect that. 

By reflect, I mean that nearly half of voters in the last civic election voted for Rob Ford, knowing full well who he was and what he stood for.  And he delivered on his "mandate".

John Tory?  I usually remember him as the guy who used to real suck up to Mike Harris, which made me sick, but then I actually felt a bit sorry for him when he lost as PC leader over, of all things, funding for religious schools.

Now I know that I'm pretty much the only person (especially on the left) who feels this way, but I always thought he got a bad rap for losing the election over this issue.  Given we already fund Catholic schools, why not fund all the other religious schools?  And then they all would have to play by the government's rules - despite what people think about government, that's how it works.  If you want the money, prepared to have every last cent of it accounted for.  Wouldn't it be a better idea to bring these private schools into the tent than leaving them outside?

But it turned out that raising the spectre of "Muslim" schools was more than enough for the good people of Ontario to reject him, even though, like the whole Sharia Law thing a number of years back,  Ontarians decided it would be better to exclude Muslims from the law than to bring Sharia Law into the framework of the Canadian legal system. 

Canadians are good at talking about diversity, or being smug about diversity, but actually reflecting it in our institutions?  Not so much!

But I don't come here to talk about the mayor. 


No, I want to talk about the story that's overshadowing the fact that there will hopefully never be a Mayor Ford of Toronto - the firing by the CBC of Jian Gomeshi.

Given what's come out, it's pretty difficult to see anything good on Gomeshi's side - the calculated Facebook post, followed by the numerous allegations, and so on.  It's all very ugly.  But here's the disclaimer- none of my opinion on what happened matters or has any bearing on the truth!

But the thing that really got me was how many Torontonians, when they heard about this, answered "I'm not surprised."  Really, you "Toronto media and arts scene" assholes?  Really?  You weren't surprised that he allegedly hit and choked various women?

Is this what passes for being an "insider" in Toronto - I thought a membership to The Spoke Club or an invitation to the latest secret supper club inside the back of a food truck was good enough back in the day, but everyone "knowing" a prominent CBC Radio personality is supposedly doing this kind of stuff to people?

Maybe being across the pond, I'm seeing this rather differently than if I were there, but it's difficult not to think that most of the Torontonians who went around saying this all over the Internet the past few days were just reinforcing their own social capital, which is, quite frankly, insane to me. 

There are people defending him, there are people excoriating him, and then there are people telling you that they knew about this all along on twitter, and then defending or excoriating him.  Two of those three groups live in the real world, the other lives in downtown Toronto.

This is what infuriates me about Toronto -how incredibly blind people are to the world and that even we Canadians do awful things to each other and other people, all around the world. Here's a news flash for Canadians - we are no better than anyone else in the world

We do awful things, and we let awful things be done to people, and then we tweet about knowing how these things happened all along, and it's the latter that seems to be the most important thing.   It seems trivial to say this, but there are going to be long term ethical and political implications to seeing the world this way.  And that frightens me.

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