It has always been a trait of the right to dismiss left-leaning folks as radicals or dreamers. The notion being that ‘progressive’ ideas about health, justice, the environment and economics are just too ‘out there’ to work in the real world. While there is often merit to these critiques, recent events in Canada have clearly demonstrated that nobody operating within electoral politics has a monopoly when it comes to inconsistencies and hypocrisies. Perhaps we are all dreamers – and maybe there is dirt behind all dreams.
Those of us with long memories will recall that Toronto mayor Rob Ford was one of those simple-solution right-wingers who claimed to be tough on crime. I guess the police are good guys until they are sifting through your own garbage. But what is even more striking to those of us who can remember the recent past is that Ford also took the standard conservative stance on drugs. In 2005 Ford stated, “You have to get these people (drug users) into rehabilitation and if they don’t go, well, then you just enforce the law. If it’s illegal, you arrest them. That’s the bottom line and if they have to dry out in jail- great.” I guess that was when it was ‘them’ rather than Ford himself. Plus, assuming the mayor didn’t generate the crack himself, surely his recent admission suggests some sort of tie to organized crime. As well, I wonder if Ford’s ‘law and order’ backers want all of the people out there fighting addictions to merely ‘apologize’, ‘take time off’ or ‘get help’.
Now why would Ford’s supporters who, at least in theory, admire the mayor’s stated views not be calling for his resignation? Is it because Ford is a wealthy elite rather than a low-income kid that his admission of drug use is somehow a quaint character flaw rather than a serious social and crime problem? Is class (that dirty word – a phenomena the right-wing elites claim doesn’t exist) really the issue here? And why is our tough-on-crime Prime Minister silent about his old friend? Obviously a good chunk of Ford supporters are Harper supporters so it seems likely the Prime Minister doesn’t want to alienate potential voters by being overtly critical of Toronto’s still somewhat popular mayor. In the name of keeping some key voters on board the hard line on law and order can take a back seat. I wonder if Harper would be so silent if the mayor in question had ties to his political opponents?
And I’m not going to even get into Ford’s supposedly ‘hold the line on spending’ policies – which are, for one willing to take the time to look, similar to the federal Conservatives, more about reallocations rather than reductions. What the question is here is why can’t conservative politicians live up to the goals and ideals they claim to cherish? Is it straight-up hypocrisy? Are the eye-catching objectives and promises simply unrealistic in the bright light of day-to-day living? Or is ‘fiscal belt-tightening’ along with ‘law & order’ something the Conservatives merely want other people to practice? You know, ‘them’.