Monday, November 26, 2012

Ford, Baird, and the anti-democractic irony to their claims of anti-democracy

The Mayor of Toronto face-plants hilariously during a football photo-op.
Incredibly-timed, given that the stumble happened a week before he was ordered to leave his office.
And doubly-unfortunate, given that he's a football coach.

The people are going to speak. I’m not going to have people saying that I can’t do this, I can’t do that." 

-Rob Ford (2012), soon-to-be former Mayor of Toronto, in response to a judge's ruling on a conflict-of-interest case, which evicted Ford from office (pending appeal)
2."We’ll go over the heads of the members of Parliament; go over the heads, frankly, of the Governor General; go right to the Canadian people."
-John Baird (2008), Conservative Party Member of Parliament, in response to the opposition parties reaching an agreement to oust the Conservatives from power (which would fail, following a) a misleading but effective campaign to vilify the move as illegitimate, and b) some procedural maneuvering by the Conservatives to delay the pivotal vote)

Earlier today, Toronto's buffoon of a mayor was found guilty in a conflict-of-interest case - he spoke and voted in a motion where he stood, explicitly, to either save or lose money - and told that he has 14 days to remove himself from his office. That first quote was one of his responses to the ruling. He's been booted because he violated the rules that are designed to protect democracy from people who behave self-interestedly. That's a provision worth protecting, especially from someone who sounds as if he's slightly megalomaniacal and thinks himself entirely above the law.
But then there's that second quote. John Baird sounded similarly unhinged and ridiculous in 2008 when an alliance of Liberal, New Democrat and Bloc Quebecois parties - who, together, outnumbered the Conservatives in Parliament - prompted him to display his total contempt for the Canadian system of democracy. As was rightly pointed out by interviewer Don Newman, Baird either didn't understand or didn't care to understand that his power was contingent, that it could be lost in an instant if the Tories, like Ford, continued to act as if it was actually absolute.
The thing is, and the lesson to take away from that second story, is that it might not matter. The Constitutional contingencies of political power? The rule of law? None of that matters so much as the appearance of legitimacy. Baird and the Conservatives were successful in controlling the narrative of the procedural wrangling, and successfully reframed a totally legal and transparent process, somehow, as an illegitimate and nefarious one. And as dumb as Ford might appear to be, that's the exact same card that he's playing. And it could still work.

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