Posts Tagged ‘Toronto

Meet The Next Mayor Of Toronto

- February 24th, 2014

small-chowsmall-torysmall-ford

John Tory: Somewhere in the middle between Olivia Chow and Rob Ford

 

 

John Tory just decided the outcome of Toronto’s next mayoral election on Oct. 27.

 

And the winner is …

 

Olivia Chow.

 

Probably. Unless she goes out of her way to blow it. (Which is, of course, entirely conceivable. Seven or eight months is an awfully long time to keep one’s natural proclivities penned up. Just ask Rob Ford.)

 

That doesn’t mean Chow deserves to be the next mayor of Toronto. Chow in the mayor’s chair is just the logical outcome of John Tory’s announced decision to seek the job.

 

If you want to get into oversimplifications like “Left” and “Right,” John Tory’s (pending) official entry into the race hopelessly divides and fragments the vote on the right, while the left remains more or less solidly aligned behind Chow’s candidacy.

 

That leaves the swampy middle as the battleground for the votes necessary to push a candidate to the top. And we all know what happens to ambitions and dreams for glory in a swamp: They sink and drown.

 

As Rob Ford, John Tory, Karen Stintz and David Soknacki try desperately to crawl  over each other to get out of the mire on the right, Chow is going to be paddling all alone in her serene little skiff, the S.S. Left-Wing Mayor.

 

Now I’ve mentioned Stintz and Socks as legitimate contenders on the right, but that was more a casual courtesy than anything. Neither of them has a snowball’s chance in hell of being elected mayor and neither, frankly, deserves the job. And hopefully John Tory’s announcement has driven the final spike in whatever lingering, Dracula-like aspirations Denzil Minnan-Wong holds for the mayoralty. And where did Norm Gardner come from? The Twilight Zone?

 

(Stintz is a shrill, self-serving flip-flopper who has done a lousy job as head of the TTC and is almost as bad as Rob Ford when it comes to building consensus on council. And if the health of Toronto’s body politic was so important to Soknacki — David Miller’s finance henchman/enabler — then why was he so conspicuously absent from the process for four seven years? Besides, Socks has the charisma of a clam.

 

(As for Minnan-Wong, the guy’s just plain creepy. He was my councillor for the better part of a decade so I had a good look at him. If I wouldn’t vote for him as ward-heeler, why on earth would I consider him fit to be mayor?

 

(And how old is that guy, anyway? Denzil Minnan-Wong never mentions his age — anywhere — although his Wikipedia entry lists him as probably 49 or 50. I used to think he hid his age because he was so young, appointed to a supposedly elective position when he was 12 or something like that … I’m kidding, of course — he was at least 13 when he was hoisted up onto the booster seat in Barry Burton’s old North York Council chair in 1994. But lately I’m starting to think Denzil’s been hiding his age for the opposite reason — because he’s, you know, actually ageless and immortal in an “I-vant-to-suck-your-blood” sort of way. I may be wrong on that, but if Denzil is foolish enough to run for mayor, he’d better have his birth certificate handy when he makes the announcement.)

 

But back to the real candidates …

 

Stintz and Socks and the other bobble-heads are just distractions from the main contenders on the right — Rob Ford and John Tory.

 

Ford, we all know about. He is what he is — a huffing, puffing (as in crack-puffing) Little Engine That Could. By sheer, antediluvian, crocodilian will power, Robbie Boy and the rest of the Ford Compact have hauled their anti-Gravy Train to the top of the mountain (which was Ford’s first year in office as mayor) and are now roaring at full speed — out of control and apparently enjoying the ride — down the other side of the mountain.

 

Where the ride ends is anyone’s guess. Until John Tory entered the race, Robbie’s ride could have ended up back in the mayor’s office. (Still might, in fact. It’s a long shot now but stranger things have happened. And, like I said, Oct. 27 is a loooong way away.)

 

Robbie’s diehard fans, Ford Nation, will stick with him to the bitter end, but every new late-night booze-up and acting-out episode loses Robbie a few more of those all-important mushy-middle-right votes that could conceivably have gone Robbie’s way in a head-to-head with Olivia Chow.

 

Tory’s entry takes away most, if not all, of those hold-your-nose-and-vote-against-the-socialist votes. Now those votes have a place to park. Tory will even pull away a few votes from the disenchanted fringes of Ford Nation.

 

But win? Can John Tory win?

 

Don’t bet on it. John Tory’s a loser. He’s never actually won anything in his life. I think his natural predisposition is to lose, which is why he keeps running — or allowing himself to be pushed into running — for office. He needs to run in order to lose. Dr. Nosey Parker says it’s a deep-seated, neurotic, visceral drive not unlike that which leads Rob Ford to repeatedly, obsessively, intentionally run off the rails of good behaviour.

 

Don’t get me wrong: John Tory had to run. As far as the movers and shakers of Toronto were concerned, somebody on the right with a fighting chance had to run against the unmanageable buffoon that is Ford and the slippery socialist that is Chow.

 

But win? Last summer I wrote an entire Nosey Parker blog post about the many reasons why John Tory shouldn’t run for mayor of Toronto — but probably would. It references another piece I wrote back in 2010 when Tory announced he wasn’t running for mayor that year, the year he might have actually won something.

 

Here’s a link to it if you want to get second-degree acid burns from wading through the bile.

 

As a sampler, here are a few (quite a few, actually) representative paragraphs from those pieces, first from 2010:

 

“John Tory is a really nice guy (I can tell you that from personal experience) with a razor-sharp intellect and great skills as a committee member, a facilitator and a mediator.

“But he’s a complete loser as a frontline street brawler and he has the political survival instincts of a rabbit.

“Before his announcement Thursday that he would not run for mayor of Toronto in this fall’s municipal election (NOTE: This is all back in 2010, remember), Tory was hailed as the clear frontrunner and the man the beat.

“Baloney. Pure and utter crapdoodle.

“Tory would have lost the the 2010 mayor’s race — just as he lost the 2003 mayor’s race to David Miller; just as he lost the 2007 Ontario election to Dalton McGuinty’s woeful Liberals; just as he lost his own riding in that 2007 election (an almost unheard-of feat for a major party leader); just as he lost a subsequent byelection bid in a supposedly safe riding while desperately trying to get into the provincial Legislature; and just as he lost the leadership of the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party in 2009 – supposedly a hari-kiri act of his own choosing, but with a lot of other “friendly” hands helping him hold the gutting blade. Oh, did I mention that John Tory was also campaign manager for the disastrous Kim Campbell 1993 federal election bid that ultimately resulted in the demolition of the national Progressive Conservative Party of Canada?

“And just exactly where is this ‘gaping hole on the right’ on the political spectrum created by the elimination of Tory from the scene? There is none. Tory was never a right-winger. He was always a born centrist, an appeaser, a builder of coalitions and nebulous, wishy-washy ‘common ground’ agendas that everyone from Genghis Khan to Mahatma Gandhi could subscribe to without missing a beat…

“The only supposedly really ‘right-wing’ thing that John Tory ever did was, as provincial PC leader, to propose public funding for private faith-based schools in Ontario. And that was a totally cynical, calculated political act designed to win enough votes for a slim provincial majority from religious fundamentalists (of all stripes) and non-urban conservative voters. And of course it backfired, because Tory never did have a good instinctive read on the people of Ontario, or the people of Toronto for that matter.

“Tory has always reminded me of former (briefly, because of his own ineptitude) PM Joe Clark, a political junkie, a nice guy with a good mind, and a complete putz when it came to making the right political decision. Neither of them has the deep, driving gut feeling that they know the ‘right’ thing to do in any given crisis — sometimes even when the ‘right’ thing they know in their guts isn’t the thing they would rationally choose to do based simply on calculation and inclination…

“Tory’s decision (to not run for mayor in 2010) did not ‘open the field up’ — it just reduced the field of losers by one.

“Yesterday I heard John Tory described as ‘charismatic’ and ‘the best mayor Toronto never had.’ He is neither. He might have made a better mayor than David Miller. Maybe not. We’ll never know. But John Tory was never ‘best’ at anything in politics except ‘second best.’ I know that sounds rough and unfair, but politics is rough and unfair. John Tory took his lumps but never had the royal jelly to turn them into political sugar.”

 

And from the Nosey Parker piece that ran June 28, 2013, forecasting the 2014 mayoralty election:

 

“There will be, as usual, a couple of dozen candidates on the ballot but only four or five ‘serious’ contenders. If John Tory is one of them, I can guarantee three things: 1. John Tory will be considered a ‘front-runner.’ 2. John Tory will run a calculating, well-financed campaign but will make bone-headed blunders because he doesn’t have the gut instincts to do the ‘right’ thing. 3. John Tory will lose — again…

“What I don’t understand are all those unnamed, unknown power brokers in the centre and on the right who are supposedly urging Tory to don his battered knight’s armour one more time. What are they thinking — or not thinking? Is an entrenched, certified loser the best alternative the centre-right can come up with to take on Rob Ford and Olivia Chow and the other undesirables/uncontrollables who want to fill the mayor’s chair? If that’s the case, heaven help us all.”

 

I stand by all of that but …

 

But I also added a codicil of warning to that 2013 piece which bears repeating: I thought George Smitherman was going to win the 2010 mayor’s race hands down (at least in the early stages of the campaign, when I wrote the piece) and I dismissed the eventual winner, Rob Ford, as an also-ran.

So you can dump me in the dustbin of failed prognosticators or ignore my bleatings in the wilderness. At your own risk.

As for me, I look at the field of mayoral candidates presently arrayed before us and say (once again): Heaven help us all.

Consider Richard Underhill For Mayor

- January 3rd, 2014

Richard Underhill is a super-smart, responsible, passionate, dedicated man of many accomplishments who has been actively and productively engaged in the social, cultural, economic and political life of Toronto for decades. He is known, respected and admired locally, nationally and internationally.

 

Whew! What a guy, eh?

 

If all that doesn’t make Richard Underhill at least as worthy of your consideration for the job of mayor as a maybe-reformed crack-smoking, binge-drinking fridge-magnet salesman, then consider this:

 

Richard_Underhill2007_1

Richard Underhill  is one of the foremost jazz saxophonists in the world; he has played with everyone from Aaron Neville to Holly Cole to Blue Rodeo; he’s the founding member of the iconic and world-renowned bop-rap-fusion-jazz ensemble the Shuffle Demons; he’s turned out four solo jazz albums that you can read more about here; and he won a Juno Award in 2003 for his solo debut Tales from the Blue Lounge.

 

And he was a question a couple of weeks ago in the Globe’s holiday crossword puzzle.

 

Globe-holiday-scrossword

 

I ask you: Can anyone else currently running for mayor of Toronto say all that? I didn’t think so.

 

(And keeping the scoundrels of Toronto council in line would be child’s play for anyone who, like Richard Underhill, has organized and successfully completed multiple world tours with a brilliant, crazy, maverick jazz band. On shoestring budgets, I might add — the man’s obviously a fiscal conservative in practical terms.)

 

Now don’t take this as an endorsement of Richard Underhill for mayor. I’m not asking you to vote for him: I’m asking you to investigate the man and his platform, to evaluate the relative merits of the candidate and his campaign concerns according to your own light, and I’m asking you, as an informed and responsible voter, to consider Richard Underhill as mayor of Toronto.

 

Underhill-at-council

Richard Underhill addresses Toronto council’s executive committee. He’s a familiar face at city hall.

 

He certainly won’t be getting the endorsement of the Toronto Sun for the job because, you see, Richard Underhill is what he terms a “progressive,” what the Toronto Sun might call a new-age lefty (I saw that phrase in the paper a few months ago), and what Don Cherry labels a “left-wing pinko.”

 

But like I said, no one’s asking you to vote for Richard Underhill … yet (maybe not ever, since the Oct. 27 election is a looong time away). Right now just consider him as a legitimate, viable, approachable and  non-doctrinaire candidate and listen to what he has to say on various issues affecting the city he lives in and loves.

 

Probably the best way to check him out would be in person tonight (Friday, Jan. 3, from 8:30 p.m. to deep into the night) at Waterfalls Indian Tapas Bar & Grill, 303 Augusta Ave. in Kensington Market.

 

That’s when and where Richard Underhill will be holding what he calls his “campaign kick off/brainstorming session/jazz rock extravaganza for my 2014 mayoral campaign. Groove to the sounds of Wayne Cass – guitar, Great Bob Scott – drums, Mike Pellarin – bass and Rich Underhill on sax and socialize, discuss and organize. If you’d like to donate, please bring a checkbook, because we won’t be set up for visa yet!”

 

Here’s a link to the Facebook event page, where you can read more of what Richard Underhill has to say about why he’s running for mayor and some of the issues he is focused on as he develops his campaign.

 

UPDATE: Here’s a link to the new “Underhill for Mayor” website.

 

And just below you’ll find a question-and-answer e-mail interview I did with him a day or two ago.

 

I should make clear that I have nothing to gain by bringing Richard Underhill’s candidacy to your attention. I’m not involved in his campaign in any way and he’s not a friend or colleague. (We are Facebook “friends” but I’m Facebook “friends” with Tim Hudak, Bob Rae and Pussy Riot’s Moscow lawyer too, among many others.)

 

I can’t even bring myself to call him “Rich” as his friends do. To me he is always “Richard Underhill.”

 

However, I have been aware of Richard Underhill’s community activity for years and I am a great admirer of his music. We’ve only met a couple of times, at clubs where he’s been playing or at Kensington Market’s annual (and wonderful)  Festival of Lights on the longest night of the year, where he leads the Kensington Horns marching band in the neighbourhood’s torchlight parade.

ron-westray-richard-underhill

And, if you look hard, you’ll see me somewhere in the audience in his 2010 “Free Spirit” performance DVD (recorded in mid-October 2009 at the Lula Lounge).

 

So that’s my disclaimer. I present Richard Underhill to you not as a partisan political advocate but as an objective observer interested in looking at the whole picture with Toronto’s best interests at heart.

 

Here’s my Q&A interview with Richard Underhill, candidate for mayor of Toronto:

 

1. I’ve read your opening campaign statement, but I’m still wondering: What specifically triggered your decision to run for mayor at this time?

 

Toronto deserves better leadership. Seeing Rob Ford make a mockery of our government and waste the incredible potential of this great city has left me with no choice but to enter the mayoral race this year. I have been a keen observer of city politics over my 30 years in Toronto and feel that now more than ever it is time to put up or shut up and join the race.  Rather than groan from the sidelines, I will offer a creative, compassionate, non-partisan, idea driven approach to city politics

 

2. Why should anyone take you seriously as a viable mainstream candidate? What attributes make you a sensible, responsible, worthwhile choice for the voters of Toronto to consider as mayor material (apart from the fact that you aren’t Rob Ford)?

 

In my 30-year career as a musician, I have acquired a unique skill set that would well serve a mayor of this great city. I have traveled to over 30 countries and have seen first hand how other cities are modernizing and reaping the social and economic benefits from better transit, increased green space, complete streets and human scale development. Have any of the other candidates in the race traveled from New York to New Delhi, Amsterdam to Auckland, Helsinki to Havana, or Goa to Guadalajara? I have.

 

I have great people skills and am a quick study. I have served on assessment juries of all the major arts councils adjudicating up to 500 applicants at a time, so am well versed with in-depth paperwork and proposals and work well on a committee. I understand economics and have led bands of musicians on razor thin budgets on tours around the world as well as budgeting albums, videos and tours. I have great collaborative skills and have worked with groups as diverse as Blue Rodeo, the Barenaked Ladies, Dr. John, Taj Mahal and Maria Muldar so I’m not too worried about being a political neophyte. I can get up to speed quickly and I see my lack of partisan affiliation and ability to compromise as a strong asset.

 

3. I would have assumed you would support Olivia Chow’s candidacy. Why do you consider yourself a better candidate for mayor than Olivia Chow?

 

I think Olivia Chow would make an excellent mayor, but in the end it’s up to the citizens of Toronto to decide. However, I don’t feel that I am running AGAINST Olivia Chow or any other candidate, I feel I am running WITH them to help craft a better vision for Toronto. One of my slogans is ‘let the best PLAN win’ and so, for me, being a part of the discussion and helping to set the agenda will be a huge triumph. I may lack hands-on political experience, but I think one of my strengths is that I am non-partisan. To me, parties should not have a role in city politics. Being free to take whatever stand I feel is right on certain issues without the baggage of party politics is an asset that I bring to the job.

 

4. You say in your opening campaign statement “…if I’m not in a position to win near voting day, (I) will drop out and support the most viable progressive candidate.” Who besides Olivia Chow likely fits into that category right now in your mind?

 

If Toronto isn’t ready for a sax player mayor, I’d have to see who is running before making a decision on who to support. It’s really hard to speculate on who’ll be in the race, so I won’t make hypothetical endorsements. A candidate that is committed to transit, can work with all sides of the political spectrum and understands that we need to improve our infrastructure will merit my consideration. There may be a surprise contender in the wings, so we’ll have to see how it all plays out. Exciting times, indeed.

 

 

5. Have you ever smoked crack? (Nowadays one has to ask all mayoral candidates that question.)

 

No, I’ve never smoked crack!

Rob Ford, Adult Action Figure

- November 27th, 2013

brandy-aniston-free

 

The biggest question surrounding porn starlet Brandy Aniston’s invitation to Mayor Rob Ford to join her in making a XXX-rated movie is this: What took you so long to ask?

 

Granted, there would be certain other ethical and practical questions involved, such as:

 

1. I’m a pretty big deal in the porn industry. Do I really want to lower myself to Rob Ford’s level?

 

2. Assuming we shoot in one of our usual California locations, will Rob Ford be allowed to cross the border into the U.S.? I know he’s got a winter home in Florida and has travelled there a lot in the past, but that was before he admitted smoking crack cocaine on worldwide television: Has Ford’s free pass to party-land disappeared in a puff of smoke as a result of his admission?

 

3. If we’re forced to shoot in Toronto because of a possible travel ban on Ford, do we have to pay any kind of royalty fee to the Queen if we use shots of the CN Tower in gross, disturbing ways for the opening sequence?

 

4. How much will we have to pay Ford? How much does a rock of crack cost in Toronto?

 

5. Can we shoot a party scene in the mayor’s office or is that getting old-hat these days? How about in a crack house? Old-hat, too?

 

6. How much would it cost to get the Queen to appear? Only as a walk-on, of course: Vivid Entertainment isn’t into that kind of niche marketing.

 

7. Making porn movies isn’t cheap and more than one production has been de-railed because a principal performer has gone on a crack bender. Do I really want to chance my kids’ university fund on Rob Ford’s pledge that he’s on the wagon?

 

8. Do crack users lie? Do mayors of Toronto lie?

 

9. How fast can we shoot this? Two months from now, our market may be saying “Rob Who?” instead of “Rob Whoo-boy.” It’s not as if he’s a real, accomplished celebrity like Paris Hilton or Kim Kardashian.

 

10. What do we call the movie: Brandy Does Toronto? Down And Dirty In Toronto? High And Mighty In Toronto? Boinking The Blond Bimbo (Brandy’s usually a brunette, just so you get the drift)? Chain of Office (for the bondage crowd)?  The Love Tunnel (for the subway crowd)? Or my favourite — How To Drive A Ford Escort?

 

11.  Looking over these questions, they all seem to be related to practicality, not ethics. Does that make sense?

 

12. Can we stop now? Please.

 

ford-group

 

Bonus Question(s): Is Brandy Aniston really Jennifer Aniston’s sister? She’s not? Cousin, then? What do you mean they’re not related? How else could she possibly get the name Aniston? Well, she also performs as Tatum Pierce — surely she’s related to Tatum Channing, then. No? Damn, this is confusing.

 

Just to be very clear on this, Brandy Aniston really is a big deal in the porn industry (well, a sorta/fairly/almost biggish deal). She did, after all, receive the 2013 AVN Award for Unsung Starlet of the Year. I’ve done the research. She has co-starred in such films as Huge Core, Hungry Babes, Car Wash Orgy and the classic Lube-O-Mania 3000. In comparison, Rob Ford is a rank amateur: He’s only appeared in a few shaky, hand-held shorts —  getting intimate with a glass crack pipe, doing his Mike Tyson impression and playing Stuporman on the Danforth. Granted, there’s all that reality footage compiled by the Toronto Police but not much of that has been released — yet. And it seems to be pretty boring stuff too — mostly just a lot of hide-and-seek with mystery packages, so we’re told.

And yes, Virginia, there really is a Lube-O-Mania 3000. Here’s a publicity still. I think Brandy/Tatum/Ashley/Sheri/Roxi/Virginia is the one on the right. But she could be the one in the middle too. Damn, this is confusing.

Lube-O-Mania-3000

Ford Won’t Go To Rehab

- November 6th, 2013

Rob-Ford

So Mayor Rob Ford has finally admitted that smoking crack cocaine is one of the many “mistakes” for which he’s been apologizing lately.

 

So what?

 

It happened once (maybe), he says, “probably in one of my drunken stupors, probably approximately about a year ago.”

 

But it will “never, ever, ever happen again,” Ford promises.

 

And some people will believe him, like Charlie Brown believes Lucy when she promises she won’t move the football — again.

 

Ford’s rationale is that he made this “mistake” — smoking crack cocaine or being so bombed he didn’t notice he was being recorded while smoking crack? — because he was drunk at the time.

 

Ford is blaming all his problems on drinking, “getting hammered ” as he puts it.

 

His solution? “I just got to maybe slow down on my drinking.”

 

Which means Ford plans to continue drinking, a practice he claims is the source of all his problems.

 

He just plans to drink less, “to maybe slow down.” At least in public. On their weekend radio show, his brother advised Ford to drink in the basement of his home. The mayor agreed that would be a better — safer — place to get “hammered,” rather than in public. On the Danforth, say, or at City Hall or at a charity gala or at a hockey game in the Air Canada Centre or in a high school parking lot or in a crack house.

 

But Ford plans to keep indulging in the particular addiction for which he blames all his problems.

 

Just because he was drunk doesn’t absolve Ford of anything. What will the next “never-ever-ever-happen-again” apology be for?

 

Will it be drunk-driving and vehicular homicide charges because he eluded his handlers and went for a besotted joy ride after putting back “a few pops” in the basement one night? Will it be assault (again)? Will he give injection drugs a try — just once and only because he’s drunk? The possibilities are endless.

craig-robertson

Sun photographer Craig Robertson — one of the nicest, calmest people in the world — gets a stiff arm and a noseful of Rob Ford’s dirty laundry in this frame grab from the National Post website. (Craig couldn’t very well take a picture of himself being assaulted, could he — at least not from this angle?)

I’m not blaming Ford for being an alcoholic. I’m blaming him for lying to himself and to the people he keeps asking to trust him, mistake after mistake after mistake.

 

He’s an alcoholic. Maybe a functioning alcoholic — most of the time — but an alcoholic, nonetheless.

 

I spent a lifetime in the newspaper business, so I know plenty of alcoholics — non-drinking alcoholics, functioning alcoholics, semi-functioning alcoholics, lunch drinkers, binge drinkers, all-night drinkers, non-functioning alcoholics, derelict alcoholics, homeless alcoholics, dead alcoholics.

 

Some of the best-known journalists in Canada are alcoholics. But if you still see their bylines, they probably stopped drinking — stopped, not “cut down” — years or even decades ago. They’re still alcoholics and always will be; they just don’t drink any more. For whatever reason — love, family, job, health, hope, self-respect, exhaustion — they removed alcohol as a centrepiece in their lives.

 

One ex-newspaper friend, a former star (not Star) writer and now a fairly heavy political insider, has a saying when it comes to alcohol: “I don’t do one well.” He’s so right for so many of us, Rob Ford and me included.

 

Like Rob Ford, I consider myself a functioning alcoholic. Fortunately I’m in a stable relationship and have a fairly well-balanced life, so I’m able to keep my drinking under control — only on the weekends (usually) and in moderation (usually).

 

But, like Rob Ford, I still drink too much sometimes and do crazy things while drunk sometimes (nothing for which I’ve ever had to make a public apology, mind you, although there have been a few private apologies).

 

And like Rob Ford I simply cannot envision life without alcohol, at least some of the time and to some degree. And for that reason, I cannot — yet — embrace the possibility of giving up alcohol completely, of living a life that does not include a glass of deep red, fragrant, plump, mouth-watering, spirit-raising wine. Or two. Or three. Or four. Or … I told you I don’t do one well.

 

So I understand why Rob Ford is not pledging to take a month or two off work to go into rehab and “get his private life in order,” as so many people are advising.

sun_page

He simply cannot, will not quit drinking completely at this time. As hard as it is to believe, the stakes are simply not high enough yet. He still has wriggle room. He can still say “sorry, sorry, sorry” and “never, ever, ever again” and go on doing what he’s been doing.

 

He may moderate his behaviour for a while. He may control his drinking for a while. But he hasn’t solved his “problem” and it hasn’t gone away. It’s just waiting to come roaring back out, leaving havoc and mayhem in its wake.

 

And then contrite, sad-eyed, red-faced Rob Ford will come trotting up to the microphone once again to say:

 

“To the residents of Toronto, I know I have let you down and I can’t do anything else but apologize and apologize. I’m so sorry. Folks, I have nothing left to hide. The past is the past and we must move forward. These mistakes will never, ever, ever happen again.”

 

Until the next time.

Saving Doctor Low

- September 25th, 2013

low_donald

 

Shame on you.

 

I’m talking to you, the doctors of Toronto who denied Dr. Donald Low, the white knight of this city’s 2003 SARS crisis, the right to die the way he wanted.

 

And I’m talking to you, the governments of Ontario and Canada, which continue to deny the doctors of this province the legal right to help their patients have a peaceful, pain-reduced death on their own terms when no other life outcome is possible.

 

If brilliant, unassuming, heroic Don Low was smart enough and good enough to pull Toronto out of the pandemic panic of that then-unknown plague — at extreme cost to himself and to the other medical heroes who stepped forward with him  — then he was certainly smart enough and good enough to know when his own, small, personal suffering was ready to end.

 

But this great man was frustrated at the end of his life of service to humanity when, stricken with brain cancer earlier this year, he was denied the right to end his own life on the terms and in the setting and timeframe he chose.

 

I don’t really blame the small, inconsequential medical men and women who denied Dr. Donald Low the right to die on his own terms. They were just following orders.

 

And the orders say you can’t help someone die no matter how unnecessarily painful, no matter how lengthy and inevitable that end may be.

 

But they were just following orders.

 

In the interest of objective fairness, I have to say the possibility exists that Don Low told the loyal and distraught medical acolytes around him to not hasten his death in contravention of the law. I’m sure they made his suffering as bearable as possible but Dr. Don did want to make the point that, while he had the power of life and death over hundreds, thousands, millions of others, he did not have the power of life and death over himself.

(UPDATE: I’m being too subtle or too cute or whatever you want to call it there. Don Low is a hero of Toronto’s medical community and hundreds of GTA doctors would step up with a dripline or a needle or a cup  of something if Don asked for it. He didn’t ask for it — not because he didn’t want it, but because he did not want to legally entangle other doctors and because he wanted this stupid, ignorant , pain-causing, tormenting  law to be dealt with head on. Over to you, government.)

 

And therein lies the rub.

 

If one of the greatest (and most modest) medical personages in this province, in this country could not choose to end his suffering at an appropriate time — his chosen time — then who can?

 

I almost laid a curse on anyone who would impede the right of a person to choose the circumstances of his or her own death when such death is imminent and inevitable — but Don wouldn’t like that.

 

He wants you to figure it out for yourself.