By GrantHeaslip 37 Comments
As a counterpoint to the slew of recent (or really, ever-present) anti-American sentiment, the mayor of Toronto makes Sarah Palin look like a stateswoman. He's the mayor of the largest, most cosmopolitan, and perhaps most progressive non-French city in Canada, and he's been a complete mess. He was elected largely by the suburbs after promising to "stop the gravy train" -- essentially, mow down the relatively tame unions, stop development of all surface-level transit that might annoy drivers, lower taxes without service cuts and make up for the loss with "efficiencies", stop spending money on the downtown that subsidizes the rest of the city's infrastructure, etc.
Since his election in late 2010, he's lurched through a series of personal and professional trainwrecks, including trying to tear up a sophisticated plan for developing waterfront land and replace it with an NFL stadium, monorail, megamall, and Ferris wheel; calling 911 over extremely minor things (like a comedienne trying to interview him at his home); essentially mugging a reporter investigating parkland he was trying to add to his property; cancelling a fully-funded transit plan, promising subways could be built entirely with private-sector money, not delivering for a year and a half, then screaming bloody murder when Council shut the door on his obviously-doomed plan; asking the city manager to budget for tax decreases two years down the road (at the same time that's he's essentially lost control of Council and is openly threatening that the late-2014 election campaign starts now); maintaining that cyclists are at fault when they're hit because roads are for cars; continually snubbing all gay-related events, including skipping one of the largest Pride celebrations in the world with extremely flimsy excuses; almost never talking to the media in a non-scripted context (and making a fool of himself when he does); and repeating outright lies over and over as if he can shout down the truth.
Now, in the wake of a major shooting, he says he's looking into ways to deport citizens from Toronto if they're involved in crime (how and where, I don't know), and called into a trashy talk radio show to give one of the most ignorant and baffling interviews I've ever seen.
He's obviously in a category unto himself (and would certainly be at home in the Tea Party, constitution worshipping notwithstanding), but a lot of Canadian politics are going in the same same direction -- a move from evidence-based policy, statesmanship, inclusiveness and long-term thinking to from-the-gut policy, identity politics, politics of resentment, distrust of intellectuals, fetishizing the past, etc. I imagine a lot of other countries have seen similar patterns. That is to say, while it's easy to make fun of the US, don't be so smug that your country could never go that way, or isn't in the process of doing so already (and for god's sake, the US isn't as bad as you think it is). 3-4 years ago, Torontonians would never have imagined things would go this bad.