Navonim - The Ramblings of Garnel Ironheart

Navonim - The Ramblings of Garnel Ironheart

Monday, 18 November 2013

Remembering Who's Really Worst

Mayor Rob Ford has made the news around the world for the last few weeks.  The cicumferentially-challenged chief officer of Toronto has become famous for being caught abusing crack with known felons, then lying about it, then getting caught, then sharing vulgar thoughts on his marital life with the press.  With each passing day the city's embarrassment grows as Ford continues to refuse to step aside and go gently into that good night.  The left, which was outraged by his even winning the election a couple of years ago is now nearly apopleptic at his insistence on remaining in his position.  What's the point of gleeful jubilation if the target refuses to quietly accept his downfall?
But after all the articles have been written and all the pundits have had their say there is something more to consider.  Let's remind ourselves of the former premier of the province of Ontario, one Dalton McGuinty.  During his 10 year tenure McGuinty expanded the size and cost of government to record levels.  During his first term at premier he broke almost every single pledge he made during the election campaign.  He treated the citizens of Ontario the way one might treat a developmentally challenged child by  constantly introducing new safety regulations that gave the impression that Ontarians are clutzy morons that have to be protected by the nanny state lest a sense of personal initiative lead to some form of harm.
Worst of all are the financial scandals he left behind.  Just to name a few: one billion dollars blown at eHealthOntario, the government's initiative to increase electronic medical practice.  Tens of millions of dollars spent with little to no oversight at the provincial air ambulance agency.  Another 1.2 billion dollars to move two gas plants because not moving them might have cost him a couple of ridings in the last election.  When news of that scandal hit the papers he shut down the provincial parliament, then retired and announced that he had nothing to answer for because he was no longer premier.
In short, he was patronizing, incompetent and corrupt.  But who's getting the front page treatment?
Now, I'm not excusing Rob Ford's behaviour.  As a now-former supporter of his I also wish he'd just go away and leave the spotlight to someone lest demonstrably vile.  He's made a mockery of the mayor's office, which is quite an achievement for an office previously inhabited by Mel Lastman.  He's disappointed and disillusioned Ford Nation, his rapid cadre of supporters.  He's a complete letdown.
But when he came to work he worked hard.  His foibles didn't affect his citizens.  He wrestled with costs and always tried to let the beset interests of Toronto guide his agenda.  He might have been a stoned and drunk boor after work but while on duty he was all business.
Dalton McGuinty, on the other hand, probably doesn't have a single personal vice to his name.  He probably drinks in extreme moderation, if at all and is probably a loving father and husband who would rather die than embarrass his loved ones.  And he's also a corrupt politician and a liar with a disdain for democracy.  If Ontario is a financially precarious situation, something that affects almost 10 million people it's definitely his fault but there's no sign he's prepared to take an iota of responsibility.
So who's really the worse person here?


Anonymous said...

Well put. As someone who lived in Toronto for a few years, I agree with you wholeheartedly. Rob Ford has done quite a lot for the city. He has been hard working, conservative and really accomplished a lot. And thats with a liberal city council. While his behavior is inexcusable, I think his performance as mayor has been fantastic.

Atheodox Jew said...

A related question: How much should personal conduct be factored against job performance in terms of a person's ability to hold public office? I had a similar question about the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal. How much does it really matter in terms of his being a good president? I think when you come down to it, to have people's mandate to lead, a leader needs basic "chein"/likeability just as much as they need effective policies and governing skills.

Law mom said...

You forgot to mention how Dalton engaged in fear-mongering over faith-based schools, calling the plan to extend funding "segregation", even though he himself attended Catholic schools, his wife was a Catholic school teacher and he made it clear that he had no plans to stop funding Ontario Catholic schools despite the fact that they are legally permitted to engage in blatant religious discrimination.

Law mom said...

AJ - if it was simply a matter of having a substance abuse issue, and if he had admitted that he had a problem and taken a short leave of absence to attend rehab, his political career would have likely survived. Any poor choices would have been attributed to the addiction, he could have said something along the lines of "I have come to realize that addiction is a medical issue, not a sign of moral failing", and he would have been almost immune from criticism here.

There are a few issues, though, that are more serious than merely being a punchline. Toronto police conducted a massive drug and guns raid a few months ago, in the buildings where Ford's alleged dealers lived. Ford's driver/friend has also been charged with extortion in connection with his attempts to get the crack video and prevent it from being shown to anyone else. If there was evidence that Ford was directly linked to extortion, or if he were unable to deal with the Toronto Police without concerns of interference into major investigations, that would be a serious problem.

SJ said...

At least ford isn't from Kenya like Hussein is.

SJ said...


C. Laundry said...

AJ - I also have thought of the comparisons. I agree that likability is key. I wasn't really as bothered by Clinton as I am by Ford. Although truth be told, I don't have high expectations of politicians here, and find the Ford story to be more than anything else, a nuisance/distraction from REAL issues - like the tragedy in the Philippines. In any case, AFAIC, there's a fundamental difference in the personal issues, in that an extra-marital affair does not interfere with one's cognitive functioning (presumably), while substance abuse likely would.