Saint Olivia

Monday, July 14, 2014

Every day, it seems, Olivia Chow appears somewhere. A series of well-planned photo-ops have her arriving at civic functions, charity events and, well, pretty much anything that has more than ten people in attendance. She showed up on the cover of her World Cup schedule last month to tell Toronto that soccer is good. She showed up at a staged press conference today to tell Toronto that guns are bad.

It would be easy for my critics to accuse me of being jealous of Ms. Chow’s formidable budget and logistics team. Those critics would be right. There seems to be no event she has missed this year, since her book launch, and such planning and marketing takes deep pockets and a great deal of cunning.

But what bothers me – as a citizen of Toronto – is the absolute emptiness of these gestures. She is certainly queen of making appearances, but behind the yellow and purple photo-ops there appears to be nothing of substance – nothing that will carry the city forward.

Think back to the CITY TV debate in March. Or any debate. Anytime she’s taken off her prepared script, it becomes obvious that she is unable to hold her own in vigorous substantive debate. How will this work for her in the chaos that is City Hall? And remember, as I’ve seen from the inside, absolutely everything is scripted for her. Everything. Except for the hugs.

She turns to her ethnicity and her poor immigrant parents much like her opponent turns to his disease; as a “poor-me” deflection, designed to distract people from her leadership vacancy.

So what about this gun announcement anyway?

How does she expect her ban to be enforced, since it’s already the law of the land? What makes her feel she holds sway over Federal or Provincial Ministers?

And since when do gun criminals fear municipal by-laws?  I happen to know a little bit about gun-toting criminals. They are not the type to say, “Oh, well then, I guess I had better turn my weapons and myself in.” They tend to come from a culture that doesn’t listen much to politicians, or police, for that matter.

Which means that the gun control press conference was a sham. Another “look at me” moment that has no teeth – no true ability to enact change. No chance to make this a “better” city. She might as well have said “kittens are nice.” The effectiveness of that statement would have been the same. Interestingly, her gun control presentation happened just three days after I put out video and a press release on mandatory police lapel cameras – a step that almost all agree would make policing safer for police, and for those police serve and protect (us), while saving the city hundreds of millions of dollars, and rebuilding the trust between the police and public.

So why stop at handguns, Saint Olivia, she who can do no wrong? Why stop there? Maybe we should make crime illegal. Let’s ban crime! Wait a minute. It already is illegal!

I have a better idea. How about we ban politicians from grandstanding? How about we run a mayoral electoral campaign based on substance? Debates with actual questions with no prepared answers? Moderators and journalists unafraid to demand the truth rather than accepting the softballs and soundbites thrown back at them? A demand for better candidates, not just the ones who have seniority or legacy. How about making politicians actually earn their place into leadership rather than buy it or inherit it?

Wouldn’t that help convince Toronto voters that they have leaders actually capable of solving this city’s problems and enacting real change, rather than just looking good in photo-ops?

And oh, by the way, I think kittens are nice, and I also think Olivia Chow is nice. But nice does not mean she should be our Mayor.

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