Tag Archives: Rob Ford

Democracy’s Last Stand

Canada votes tomorrow. Today, I’m avoiding the radio and the television. I’m sick and tired of hearing and seeing the attack ads. I’m sick and tired of the last desperateillegaland immoral attempts to sway public opinion. I’m sick and tired of what our government as become over the last decade.

As you know, I have more thoughts on the matter and I have been trying to articulate them in this space over the past few weeks, but I don’t think I could write it any better than the Mayor of Calgary, Naheed Nenshi, did in his opinion piece to the Globe and Mail.

As mayor of a city that has much to lose, given the state of oil prices and whathaveyou, Naheed doesn’t write of economics, or budgets, or trade policy. He writes of what it means to be Canadian. That’s the message I’ve been trying to get through.

Before we start nitpicking about dollars and cents we have to have serious conversations about respect and common sense. Respect for our democracy and our Charter of Rights and Freedoms and common sense as well as respect, compassion, and understanding for our neighbours and the millions of disenfranchised souls woven into the fabric of our nation.

Doug Ford, speaking of his brother Rob at a Conservative rally held last night for, and attended by, Stephen Harper had this to say about respect:

“I’ll tell ya, Rob came up with this phrase, but nothing I can remember in a federal election is any more important than respect for taxpayers.”


Really, Doug, how exactly is respect being shown? I’ll save everyone the Google search and tell you. It’s being shown by tax cuts to the very rich and mystery math to the average Canadian that will result in a pennies on the dollar savings – if anything at all.

I am a taxpayer, a big one as it turns out, and I certainly don’t feel like I’m being respected. In fact, if feels like quite the opposite, and I don’t know about you, but to disrespect me is to disrespect my neighbour. I’m funny like that. I actually give a shit about someone else every now and then.Canadians are tired of the short-sighted, specialized treatment for a select few while the rest of us wander around wondering what has happened to the country we call home. I much prefer the Louis C.K. speech he gave to his daughter:

Louis C.K. gets it, why can’t Haper?

It’s a telling sign when the former owner of the nation’s most conservative newspaper comes out and pens an open letter saying that our Prime Minister has overstayed his welcome. In fact, with the exception of FOX News North (a.k.a Sun Media, a.k.a Quebecor) you will be hard pressed to find a Canadian publication willing to come out in support of Stephen Harper. You know who did, though? Forbes. That they are so far the most vocal supporter speaks volumes, you know, on account of Forbes being somewhat well-known for only giving a shit about money. I am surprised they didn’t just come out and say, “If you’ve got a lot of money and only care about your bottom line then he’s your man.”

The thing is, something tells me that the 1% will be just fine without him. Just a hunch. I say this because financial success for businesses of all shapes and sizes occurred under previous Liberal rules just as they have under Conservative ones. Plus, both Trudeau and Mulcair are very smart individuals surrounded by other very smart individuals who spend a lot of time figuring this stuff out. To say that either one of them would recklessly march this nation into financial ruin is insulting.

Call this a panicked plea to the masses.
Call this a last stand against the selfish and greedy.
Call this an attempt to appeal to the kind, tolerant, good-natured human we know lives inside of every Canadian.

I don’t care what you call it so long as you do the right thing in the end.

And if you do nothing else today, read Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi’s words and ask yourself what means the most to you, to your family, and to your neighbour. Then, go out on October 19 and vote accordingly.

~ Andrew

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First off, an apology to all four of you that were expecting posts the last couple of weeks. I decided  I would take some mental health time away from blogging. Also, I had exactly zero ideas for posts and was becoming quite frustrated so I decided to do other things.

Anyhow, a few things happened while I was away from the blogosphere but today we’re going to focus on storytelling. I was in a bit of a funk and having a hard time getting words to flow. Call it writer’s block, call it whatever you want. I was stuck and having a hard time getting out. Before you knew it though the day was saved… by none other than Rob Ford.

I know it sounds a little suspect, but it’s true! Before you think I’m just another person jumping on the let’s make fun of Rob Ford bandwagon (I’m not) I have a question:

What do Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, former President Bill Clinton, and former football player O.J. Simpson have in common?

Answer: in spite of mountains of evidence to the contrary they all chose to deny, deny, deny… and then admit.

Well, two of the three eventually copped to some reasonable facsimile of the truth. One of those two could very well be in the White House again in a couple years (albeit as the spouse of the President this time) and one could still be Mayor of Toronto in the fall (though still the butt of late night television jokes). The one who is still denying everything? Well he was sued for every penny he had an is now in jail for an “unrelated” conviction.

So what is it about denying something until you’re blue in the face before coming clean at the last second that actually works?

Answer: imagination.

In storytelling you have to lead people down the path but you can’t spoon feed them every detail. If you did there wouldn’t be much of a story, and if there’s one thing we humans love it’s a good story. We also have wonderful imaginations, especially when we’re given just the right amount of information to work with. If you can leave out certain bits and carefully highlight other ones you end up leaving enough room for the reader to fill in the blanks with their own fabulous ideas.

Good stories live inside negative space. 

By constantly denying, what those people are doing is allowing everyone’s individual storytelling machines to work overdrive. At the end of it all they can just stand back and put their arms up and say, “Well look at that, everyone’s got a theory. My ‘theory’ is I’m innocent. [smiles and waves] No further comment.”

After a while, because people have dreamed up such amazing stories to fill the space in between, when the truth does come out (and it always does eventually) it’s really quite an anti-climactic event. We forget all about how incredulous we were back when it all began. The redemption story starts to take hold. Everyone deserves another chance. Blah blah blah. Humans are also suckers for the happy ending. Film has been taking advantage of this for over a century (the finest example I can think of is the film adaptation of Bernard Malamud’s “The Natural”. Watch Robert Redford in the movie and then read the book).

The problem is we live in the real world and not in the pages of a best selling novel or some Hollywood tale. I want real people, especially leaders and role models, to be able to produce a list of end notes and reference checks as long as their arm like you’d have at the end of a research paper. Just as it is with that list, I’m never going to follow up on everything on it, but I’ll feel much but I feel much better knowing it’s there. This way we can spend more of our precious creative time coming up with stories that actually matter.

~ Andrew

Media Feeding Frenzy

I have a Twitter account. You can see the feed just to the left of this post. It’s 100% public and anyone with access to the internet can see every Tweet I’ve sent (all 7,300+ of ’em). You won’t see anything terribly salacious though as I have implemented some strict rules over the last couple years; the two biggest being: no f-bombs and nothing derogatory/defamatory toward an individual. In other words, try as often as possible to use my nice words and don’t make it personal. In spite of this, you have no reason to believe that anything I post is even remotely true and because of that I do my best not to give you any reason to doubt me.

When I see tweets out of context that (in my opinion) cross some lines I mostly just ignore them. I certainly can’t be the defender of everybody on the Internet, nor do I want to be, but when one or more of my friends is involved I tend to take notice. This happened recently and until I was able to gain access to the appropriate context things looked pretty crazy, like something out of a fake news magazine. However, I got the appropriate context and have since chosen to stay the heck out of it and let the system and people directly involved do what they do. I just wish that proper context had been made available along with all the other tweets that were being tossed around.

I’ve written about being careful about what you tweet before and in today’s world of instantly mass distributed information it’s more important than ever for people to be cautious about what they publish. Sadly, most do not. Instead, they just get angry, type, and press send. You may have noticed that news outlets tend to lag when it comes to the release of information. This is because they are supposed to have a little something called journalistic integrity. They are supposed to fact check and double, sometimes triple verify before publishing. Supposedly, they require proof, but we all know that not every news outlet has the same definition and not every one goes about obtaining it the same way (or at all in some cases). As a friend pointed out to me recently, “your credibility and integrity are directly tied to the media organization who signs your checks.” I had made a reference to The Toronto Star in comparison to FOX News and we were speaking of course on the recent scandal that has rocked the mayor’s office in Toronto.

There used to be a clear difference between an organization operating completely above board and one of lesser integrity. It used to be really easy to differentiate between The Toronto Star and FOX News. After what I’ve seen over the past 10 days I’m sad to report that it’s not so easy any more. As far as I can tell, once the Rob Ford story broke every media outlet in Canada (and some in the U.S.) started behaving like someone on Twitter with no followers, tweets with links to questionable websites, and an egg for a profile picture.

If I was able to draw, there’d be a picture of Rob Ford in the ocean with a bunch of shark fins circling him, each one with the name of a media outlet tattooed on it (the largest fin being the Toronto Star). There’d be a dude in a life raft looking all shipwrecked and scraggly and holding binoculars. On the side of his boat would be “S.S. Gawker”. Until I can take some art lessons, this will have to do:

There’s a certain irony to me utilizing an image stolen from FOX in this post

Listen, I’m not a Rob Ford fan. I’ve shamefully made a comment or two at his expense this week. A good many people, however, have done a lot more than just crack a joke, and with less evidence than there was to support the existence of Weapons of Mass Destruction.

At least I will give Mr. Ford the benefit of the doubt:

No proof = didn’t happen.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m also not a fan of any jerk who abuses power and uses money and influence to do nefarious, morally reprehensible, or illegal things. But is this what it has come to? Has the rest of the world given up on demanding proof? Has the age of instant information whet our appetite to such a degree that we have finally shifted the burden of proof from the accuser to the accused?

I certainly hope not, but more and more it’s looking like that’s the direction it’s headed.

Welcome to the Court of Twitter:
Trial by Internet with traditional media judge presiding over a jury of your social media peers; thumbs hovering over the send button and salivating at the thought of hanging the accused in 140 characters or less.

~ Andrew