Wednesday, January 09, 2013
We deserve better
Mayor Ford's appeal began Monday. The odds are long that his being judicially turfed for conflict of interest will be overturned. But Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday has a nice way to subvert the whole process anyway: wrangle the votes on council to return Ford to office. This is technically constitutional, so I'm led to understand.
I'm disappointed. I was ready to settle in with Holyday stepping up and taking the reins as mayor-pro-tem for the next couple of years till the next civic election, where he might himself run for the office on the merits of the job he did. But now I can't even be satisfied with that, because he's just brought his own ethical judgement into question. How does it serve the people of Toronto, or the citizens of this country, to set an example that essentially promotes ignorance of the law—and willful ignorance, at that—as a sufficient defence? To say that dropping the rule book in the garbage can without reading it should serve as a get-out-of-jail-free card; and that the only people who should be bound by the rules are the suckers who make themselves aware of them? I want someone who champions this view running Toronto hardly any more than I want the person he's defending by doing so running it. Nevertheless, the icing on the cake is that if Holyday can't convince council to reinstate Ford, why, he's ready for them to coronate him instead.
Well, I'm not, not so much anymore. Now I'm inclined to have the city spend the painful amount of money it takes to hold an election, because neither Ford nor Holyday has demonstrated himself deserving of the job. Let me be plain: I don't care that Rob Ford's initial offence was a minor infraction of the rules in aid of charity. What matters is what he did afterward: refused to make restitution and take the slap on the wrist, and instead involved himself in a conflict of interest, which is much more serious. Rather than back down and acknowledge the mea culpa, he just beat his chest like a raging gorilla and compounded one offence with another, all the while heaping more and more scorn on the rules that make honest city government visible and possible. And Holyday is basically endorsing all that and trying to get us to accept with a shrug and a giggle that it ain't so bad. I don't want to spend the money that holding a mayoral election will cost Toronto, but at stake is a principle important to a real, functioning democracy and not just a cynical dog and pony show. We can do better, and we deserve better.