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Thursday, June 4, 2015

@JohnTory and the curse of right-wing governance | #TOpoli #cdnpoli

A noxious confluence of events.

In Toronto, the Gardiner East kerfuffle. And the police culture's turgid and shameful insistence on continuing the practice of carding, despite all the evidence that it's useless, counterproductive, alienating, and a grotesque manifestation of systemic racism.

In Ottawa, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's report on this country's shameful treatment of native people.

We pretty much know what we're going to get from the festering, vindictive, authoritarian Harpoid regime. That it's resisting a fair accounting and hedging over control of resources is no surprise. Nor is its Aboriginal Affairs Minister's literal refusal to stand up at the presentation of the report. Not much left to say about this putrescent government and its contempt for ... well, pretty much everything and everybody except international investors, ideological fellow travellers, and tar-sands diggers.

No, let's keep this a tad closer to home for now. Let's talk about the smooth-talking suit in the mayor's office, and how wrong he is on two of the most pressing issues in Toronto's civic life.

Remember when John Tory used to make sense? (It did happen, and not all that long ago. Like when he was with the Civic Action Alliance.) Isn't that what we were hoping for when he succeeded the Fuckhead Brothers? Whatever happened to that guy, anyway? Was he just saying whatever to get elected, or was there something more insidious at work (geez, can you maybe telegraph things a little more? - ed.)?

Let's run down the signs, shall we? Lines up with the forces of reaction on carding, in the face of pressure from thousands across the city and political spectrum.

Oblivious to injustice, to marginalization, to entrenched and systemic racism. White privilege? Never heard of it.

Lip service. Photo ops. Hollow gestures.

Equivocation on the obvious need to take down the east section of the Gardiner Expressway, all for the sake of a handful of entitled motorists. Hey John, here's a thought: Greatest good for the greatest number? Isn't that what public institutions are supposed to pursue?

Tone-deaf platitudes in defence of privilege.

No overarching conception of the public good.

Wrong on more civic issues than you can shake a recorded vote at.

Yup. Now where have we seen this before? Yeah, yeah, maybe some smart-ass tried to caricature John Tory as Rob Ford with manners, and while that may be good for a cheap laugh, there's a lot more to it.

And before we go down the dead-end road of binary liberal vs. conservative thinking, let's resolve to respect the meanings of words. Words matter. Language matters. Definitions matter.

This isn't conservatism. Conservatives have their faults, but this kind of clueless arrogance isn't a mark of conservatism so much as atavistic entitlement, ignorance, and shallow expediency. It's the product of years of insulation, privilege, and growing ever more out of touch.

And it’s not about fouling public discourse with a flood of lies and bullshit either — the bullshit from Gardiner East "hybrid" proponents being a case in point.

No. This is the inevitable toxic effect of the right-wing approach to (mis)government. Whether it’s drunken oafish crackheads, blue-blooded corporate patricians, or malevolent wingnut-welfare operators, the intent and effect are the same — progressive enfeeblement of government, debasement of language, and reducing the efficacy of public institutions.

We can do better than this.