Last week I watched a cavalcade of federal and provincial politicians, in addition to various members of Rob Ford’s family, talk about the mayor’s ‘personal tragedy’. They all hoped he’d ‘go get some help’ and ‘treat his disease’.
I wanted to puke.
All these politicians telling me to feel sorry for this man-child and his egregious self-control issues, and all of them apparently completely oblivious to the simple fact that, even when he isn’t high as a kite, Rob Ford is a gigantic asshole.
Rob Ford is not Toronto’s problem. Rather, the nation has a problem with the politicians we elect into office. In the last decade we’ve witnessed countless examples of politicians behaving poorly if not overtly breaking the law. Some manage to withdraw from public life for a pre-determined period of time while others attempt to frame their illegal and often reprehensible behaviour in terms of an illness they suffer from.
The political class reminds us, nearly collectively, that nobody’s perfect and everyone deserves a second (or third, or fourth…) chance.
But my nation is not a kindergarten and politicians aren’t children learning valuable life lessons for the first time. The people cannot be expected to forgive and forget the crimes of the political class when the punishment for the people for the very same crimes are often so devastating.
Don’t believe me? Then try this: record yourself drunk or high and post that video to your facebook account. Try to drum up a conversation with the people you’re getting high with and use as many racial epithets you can think of. Try to ensure the video captures you using drug paraphernalia as well as the drug you’re consuming. In other words, make it exceptionally clear, even to the casual observer, exactly what you’re doing.
Then, after you’ve posted the video and tweeted it out to all your friends, start a stopwatch and record how long it takes it before you: lose your friends, lose your job and lose whatever respect you once had amongst your peers. If you’re not a member of the white majority, record how long it takes before you start losing some fundamental rights as well.
The fact of the matter is money and influence can purchase access to one legal system while the lack of both results in having another, far stricter legal system thrust upon you. Based on the national experience over the past decade or so, there are no morality crimes for the wealthy and powerful. A mayor filmed smoking crack cocaine and uttering hateful, racist phrases not only gets to keep his job but further is permitted to leave his job for as long as necessary as is required to ‘get help treating his addiction’. Promptly, Mayor Ford flew to Chicago where he attempted to gain entry to the United States.
We’re now told by his lawyer that he’s ‘100% in rehab’. Yeah, that convinces me.
Either way I don’t care whether Rob Ford gets treatment or not. He should be forced from office and further prevented from running in this year’s Toronto municipal election. His behaviour should prevent him from ever taking (or running) for office again, as he has repeatedly demonstrated himself to be wholly irresponsible, disruptive, combative and thoroughly duplicitous in his conduct.
In sum, the man’s a lying scumbag who I wouldn’t permit to mind my dog for an hour, let alone the largest city in all of Canada for several years on end.
Do not ask me to feel sorry for him. It is especially unfortunate that the political establishment in this country is towing the company line so to speak, protecting their own asses by appealing to the public to take pity on Rob Ford. If we can forgive him, the people will likely forgive our politicians for all manner of bad behaviour. Consider all we’ve already forgiven: constant lying, fraud, rampant drug and alcohol abuse, tampering with and destroying evidence, overt displays of homophobia and racism, beating the shit out of your wife. If you’re confused about precisely which politician I’m referring to you’ve made my point.
And let’s keep in mind, we still don’t know who put the call out to ice Anthony Smith. How soon before we’re asked to forgive murder as well, because some slovenly schmuck with friends in all the right places loves sucking the pipe?
We get a bad rap in this city because of corruption – more precisely, what appears to be provincially-mandated corruption in the construction industry. Montreal, from a development and infrastructure perspective, isn’t in charge of its own affairs, and so the opportunities for middlemen to insert themselves into the mix and collude to drive up costs, fix prices and commit other acts of fraud are many. Despite the Charbonneau Commission’s on-going public testimony and the SQ’s investigations and raids, many of the same firms involved in illegal activities are still permitted to bid on projects. The Commish lacks teeth and there’s no political will to make significant changes to the status quo. In effect, the change that would be required runs counter to neoliberal economic theory and it’s almost as though we’ve become programmed, as a society, to think this is our only option.
But that aside, for the last two years or so at least the appearance of house cleaning has been maintained. Unlike in Toronto, our disgraced former mayor Michael Applebaum has been charged with fraud and conspiracy and will stand trial for his crimes. I think this is significant; our society is trying to do something to change the climate of crime and corruption that has so characterized our local government for so long.
And thus we come to the case of Jeremy Searle, the city councillor for Loyola. He’s been asked by the Cote-des-Neiges-Notre-Dame-de-Grace borough mayor Russell Copeman to take a leave of absence to treat his ‘drinking problem’. I’m going to be far less charitable. Jeremy Searle is a drunk who shows up to work drunk and makes drunken statements of the following variety:
” …perhaps in 10 years time, they could eradicate the separatist movement like they hope to do with Emerald Ash Borer insects (that are currently ravaging city trees). Except that the Emerald Ash Borer does less damage than the separatists…”
Brilliant. A city counsellor calling for a group of people to be eradicated like bugs.
I didn’t realize the vast majority of Montrealers were favourable towards notions of genocide and that eccentricity can be used to explain away hate speech. Replace separatist movement with socialists, Jews, Aboriginals, homosexuals – in every other case he would have been immediately dismissed and run out of town on the rails.
In a more recent interview, after he was asked to apologize for the aforementioned comment and after being asked to excuse himself to treat his alcoholism, Searle now suggests that he suffers from an illness and will proceed to treat it as his doctor has recommended. He then drew a parallel between alcoholism and cancer, stating that people wouldn’t be treating him so poorly if he had cancer and that ‘he suffers from alcohol abuse’.
It’s rare that the blood in my veins boils so. Are we to believe pederasts suffer from child-rape abuse? How dare he try to camouflage his inability to control himself with spectres of disease!
This why Jeremy Searle needs to be made into an example and dealt with swiftly. The City of Montreal must remove him from his office; he has no right to represent anyone in this city based on his comments alone. That he has also demonstrated an inability to control his drinking, and that he appears – regularly – to be inebriated is also reason enough to throw this bum out on his ass.
If we take action now and make an example of Mr. Searle, we can avoid ever having to deal with a cretin like Rob Ford in the future. There must be a zero-tolerance policy towards drug and alcohol abuse by our elected officials. It’s up to the individuals seeking office to get control of their lives before being elected, not while they’re in office.