Civility, Responsibility & Opposing the Mayor

I didn’t write about the NOW magazine brouhaha a couple of weeks back, because it all  just felt like an unnecessary distraction. Yes, they photoshopped some pictures so it looked like Rob Ford was almost naked. Yes, there was some “confusion” when it looked like the mayor’s office wanted all copies of the alt-weekly removed from City Hall.  But you know what also happened that same week? Significantly huge transit news that will impact our city in many different ways for decades to come.

Really, the most significant thing to come from the whole mess was this Dave Meslin essay, written after he felt he was quoted out of context in an article by Joshua Errett that appeared in the Naked Ford edition. Meslin has taken some heat in various left-leaning circles due to his rather optimistic take on Ford’s election. (Just after Ford won in October, he expressed he that was “genuinely optimistic” saying, in a Corey Mintz blog post, “I think it will be more of an accessible administration than we had under Miller.”)

His essay ends very nicely. The whole thing is worth reading:

Let’s raise the quality of debate in this town.  Let’s foster a political culture that is respectful of opposing views, with more collaboration and less back-stabbing.  More policy-based propositions and less personal attacks.  More listening and less preaching inwardly to ourselves.

via Me, Rob and NOW. In search of political civility. | Mez Dispenser.

And, yeah, I’m mostly with him all the way with that sentiment. What I really hate to see is someone who might, for example, enjoy the kind of things that I write here but then veers off into a weird kind of attack mode, labelling and insulting Ford.

It’s not fair, and it ignores that Ford is not an easy character to define. Yes, his record of HIV/AIDS isn’t good, but to call him a homophobe is far too simplistic. Yes, he displays traces of hardcore libertarianism and a lack of empathy for the poor but then he goes and coaches a football team in a low income neighbourhood or bends over backwards to get repairs done at a TCHC building. He contains multitudes.

Where I disagree some with Meslin is that I don’t think it’s wrong to look at what Ford represents and has represented for over a decade politically in this city and say, rather emphatically, that this isn’t the right person to lead Toronto. To that end, I think it is entirely fair to look at everything he does with a healthy level of  skepticism, to hold him to his many promises and, above all else, to always call him on his bullshit.

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