Hey guys, Canadian politicians can be dumb too

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.

37 Comments
38 Comments
Posted by GrantHeaslip

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.

Posted by mosespippy

This is what happens when people don't vote or decide to make uninformed decisions. I'd like to see Mike Layton take a run in the next election.

Posted by RenMcKormack

Also the Maple Leafs stink.

Online
Posted by SockemJetpack

I think the moment that made me laugh/facepalm the most was when Ford brought up the repeal of the 5 cent plastic bag charge at supermarkets. Council said yeah alright and then voted to ban plastic bags entirely by early next year.

I wonder what shade of purple Ford went during that meeting.

Posted by GrantHeaslip

@mosespippy said:

This is what happens when people don't vote or decide to make uninformed decisions. I'd like to see Mike Layton take a run in the next election.

I think the anti-Ford camp has to be careful to not split the vote and underestimate Ford. I like Layton as well, but (not knowing how he and others poll, especially two years from now) he might not be most saleable to the suburbs. I'd hate to see a left-wing candidate be hugely popular in the downtown in such a way as to pave a path for Ford to win with, say, 35% of the vote (which I think he could totally get). What we really need is a STV electoral system, but I'm not holding my breath for that.

Edited by Kidavenger

@GrantHeaslip: While I agree with most of what you say, I'd trade all of those things for a fiscally responsible government. Absolutely not saying that is what your guy is trying to do, I'm not from Toronto and have never heard of him.

I'm not saying that spending needs to be cut on everything or anything in particular, you have to spend money to make a city prosperous, but the amount of wasted money in most Canadian municipalities is incomprehensible.

There was an interesting episode on This American Life about this a few months ago http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/459/what-kind-of-country

Posted by GERALTITUDE

Man, Canadian politics is the only thing worse than American politics. So petty and small. I guess we all hate our politicians. Here in Deadmonton we've got an OK mayor, but it's hard to tell when our previous mayors have been completely crazy/awesome.

Hard times for Toronto. Every time I hear that guy on the radio I'm more and more shocked. He just sounds... not smart.

Posted by Dexter_Morgan_

lol a Ferris Wheel...

Posted by DonutFever

We have yet to reach Rick Santorum and Dick Cheney levels of bad, though.

Posted by SockemJetpack

@GERALTITUDE: Look at it this way: At least Edmonton will have a great hockey team in a few years. Us Toronto fans will still have Phil the Kettle and Dion "Sloppy Seconds" Phaneuf.

Posted by Aetheldod

@GrantHeaslip: Well he really sounds as an abysmal politician , the one thing tho , why is it a bad thing if did not wanted to go to a gay parade? Why must he like that by force? Or was it a normal parade ... your post on that is not very clear

Posted by BraveToaster

He mugged someone and he's still the Mayor.

Posted by Ravenlight

@BraveToaster said:

He mugged someone and he's still the Mayor.

It's called "Mayoring" when he does it.

Edited by GrantHeaslip

@Kidavenger said:

@GrantHeaslip: While I agree with most of what you say, I'd trade all of those things for a fiscally responsible government. Absolutely not saying that is what your guy is trying to do, I'm not from Toronto and have never heard of him.

I'm not saying that spending needs to be cut on everything or anything in particular, you have to spend money to make a city prosperous, but the amount of wasted money in most Canadian municipalities is incomprehensible.

There was an interesting episode on This American Life about this a few months ago http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/459/what-kind-of-country

I don't particularly disagree -- the problem is that most politicians who talk about fiscal responsibility are really talking about not paying for things they personally don't want or use (regardless of the evidence). The most high-profile issue in Toronto right now is public transit -- we have horrible gridlock, and a once-admirable transit system that has been tragically underfunded by the provincial and federal governments and is beyond capacity. There used to be a 50-50 funding agreement that was dropped by a previous "fiscally conservative" government, and basically nothing new has been built in the last 30 years besides a stupid patronage project (allowed to progress by said "fiscally conservative" government) that's now bleeding money. We desperately need big transit investment, including a bigger operating budget.

This mayor drives a Cadillac Escalade to work, has a policy advisor who has previously advocated privatizing all public transit, pushed the transit commission to lower service, fired the general manager of said commission after he made factual statements that didn't fit within the mayor's viewpoint, and wants to dismantle the streetcar system that carries 300,000 passengers a day because he doesn't like driving with them. That, to me, is fiscal irresponsibility, because gridlock is costing the city billions a year and hurting it's long-term future.

I'm a Liberal (relatively centrist party, though I'm on their left) voter -- I like actual fiscal responsibility, not the petty pretend responsibility (which is little besides a cover for them slashing things that aren't ideologically consistent) the right in Canada and US are offering right now.

Edited by GrantHeaslip

@DonutFever said:

We have yet to reach Rick Santorum and Dick Cheney levels of bad, though.

I'd argue they're dramatically more competent. More evil, but at least better at it.

@BraveToaster said:

He mugged someone and he's still the Mayor.

To be fair, "mugged" was a bit of an oversimplification on my part. Here's the full story (also important: the Mayor has had a years-long grudge against that newspaper for a story they ran during the campaign).

Posted by DonutFever
@GrantHeaslip said:

@DonutFever said:

We have yet to reach Rick Santorum and Dick Cheney levels of bad, though.

I'd argue they're dramatically more competent. More evil, but at least better at it.

Well, I'd argue that dumb is better than evil.
Posted by GrantHeaslip

@DonutFever said:

@GrantHeaslip said:

@DonutFever said:

We have yet to reach Rick Santorum and Dick Cheney levels of bad, though.

I'd argue they're dramatically more competent. More evil, but at least better at it.

Well, I'd argue that dumb is better than evil.

Agreed, though I'd rather not have either :).

Posted by GrantHeaslip

@Aetheldod said:

@GrantHeaslip: Well he really sounds as an abysmal politician , the one thing tho , why is it a bad thing if did not wanted to go to a gay parade? Why must he like that by force? Or was it a normal parade ... your post on that is not very clear

He doesn't have to, but showing up to major cultural events (or at least acknowledging them) is kind of part of the job description. The Pride festival is huge in Toronto, is a massive tourist draw, and is a big part of the city's self-image. Another big part of the problem is that he won't just straight-up admit he doesn't like gay people (which is fairly obvious at this point), but instead comes up with bullshit excuses like going to his family cottage. If he were up-front about it, I'd still dislike the guy, but I'd at least respect that he's not trying to have it both ways.

Posted by mosespippy

@Aetheldod: It is important for the leaders of the city (any leaders in any jurisdiction really) to show support for all citizens. When leaders selectively choose to discourage one group of people (especially on their day of celebration) then they are effectively saying it is OK for other citizens to discriminate against that group. This can lead to tense relationships amongst groups and even conflict. It's the same sort of thing that leads to civil wars or genocide. All the mayor had to do was show up to a parade to show that this group is accepted in the community. He didn't and therefore implied that they aren't acceptable.

Posted by Aetheldod

@GrantHeaslip: Ok fair duder :) yeah he should be honest about that , but myself never trust in any politician ... no matter the country

Posted by Hailinel
@DonutFever
@GrantHeaslip said:

@DonutFever said:

We have yet to reach Rick Santorum and Dick Cheney levels of bad, though.

I'd argue they're dramatically more competent. More evil, but at least better at it.

Well, I'd argue that dumb is better than evil.
To be fair, Santorum was voted out of office and has yet to win an election since.
Posted by Hyperglide

@SockemJetpack: Don't forget the future Vezina Trophy winner James Reim Minister, Cool Kulemin and Grabastic Grabovski.

Seriously though we got a good draft pick in Reily and picked up JVR. Also with a lockout looming I think Burke is sitting on his hands till a new CBA is out.

Sorry I went OT a little. I was born in Toronto so I am used to retarded Mayors and politicians there. I don't live there anymore thank god. The 5 cent bags affected where I live though. The POS bags aren't even worth 5 cents. I just used reusable bags.

Posted by Jrad

If only the conservative party weren't so hopelessly incompetent. I'm not sure if it's like this everywhere, but in my town, people vote almost exclusively as their family has for decades. Old people especially don't seem to give a shit what the candidates are promising or what the party's policies are, they vote one way because their parents voted that way and their parent's parents did too.

All of my teachers have advocated the ABC ("Anything but conservative") method of voting, which I'm pretty sure is against some school legislation, but I can't really blame them given the sorry state of the conservative party in Canada.

Posted by _Zombie_

I still think us 'Murcans have shadier politics.

Edited by GrantHeaslip

@Jrad said:

If only the conservative party weren't so hopelessly incompetent. I'm not sure if it's like this everywhere, but in my town, people vote almost exclusively as their family has for decades. Old people especially don't seem to give a shit what the candidates are promising or what the party's policies are, they vote one way because their parents voted that way and their parent's parents did too.

Don't the last election results kind of invalidate that (unless you're talking about a Conservative riding?).

Posted by laserbolts

Harper is worse.

Edited by Flawed_System

@mosespippy said:

This is what happens when people don't vote or decide to make uninformed decisions. I'd like to see Mike Layton take a run in the next election.

Sounds like what happened in 2008.

Posted by Duskwind

1.) Cyclists suck. They think they own the road, quite often ride recklessly, and give drivers the finger for getting annoyed.

2.) Nothing wrong with skipping any parade, gay pride or otherwise, if you don't wanna go.

3.) Forget deportation, gun criminals need to be drowned in Lake Ontario.

All that said, this part's fucked up....

"...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..."

I'd go with a beautiful waterfront over all that shit. What's he thinking?

Posted by Geno

The first video of this guy I saw on Youtube I thought was a parody. Turns out it was a straight interview. 

Posted by Hockeymask27

To be honest I sometimes forget we have are own government. The US stuff always seems to take centre stage.

Posted by Patman99

@laserbolts said:

Harper is worse.

Harper is always worse. Too bad Alberta has the oil sands that Harper tries to protect or else we would have a Liberal or NDP government right now.

Posted by Jay_Ray

@Patman99 said:

@laserbolts said:

Harper is worse.

Harper is always worse. Too bad Alberta has the oil sands that Harper tries to protect or else we would have a Liberal or NDP government right now.

A NDP government would fuck Canada up so badly. I'd rather Harper then anything NDP related and that is saying a lot.

Posted by Duskwind

@Patman99 said:

@laserbolts said:

Harper is worse.

Harper is always worse. Too bad Alberta has the oil sands that Harper tries to protect or else we would have a Liberal or NDP government right now.

All a matter of opinion. I voted for Harper, and I think he's great.

Posted by Turambar
@GrantHeaslip said:

@DonutFever said:

We have yet to reach Rick Santorum and Dick Cheney levels of bad, though.

I'd argue they're dramatically more competent. More evil, but at least better at it.

Well, Cheney did shoot someone in the face, and got the other guy to apologize to him.
Posted by Little_Socrates

XD So literally read this thread title after hearing Hot Girl Problems, and immediately just swapped the chorus.

Canadian politicians are dumb too, they're not perfect and sometimes they lie...

Posted by Patman99

@Duskwind: Do you mind if I ask what province you are from? Personally, I am from BC and at the time of the election, I was in Victoria where the Green party got in but there was a lot of old Conservatives got super aggressive in their campaigning.

Posted by No0b0rAmA

@Patman99 said:

@laserbolts said:

Harper is worse.

Harper is always worse. Too bad Alberta has the oil sands that Harper tries to protect or else we would have a Liberal or NDP government right now.

Yeah, well that's just like, your opinion, man.

Posted by NlGHTCRAWLER

@DonutFever said:

@GrantHeaslip said:

@DonutFever said:

We have yet to reach Rick Santorum and Dick Cheney levels of bad, though.

I'd argue they're dramatically more competent. More evil, but at least better at it.

Well, I'd argue that dumb is better than evil.