Rob Ford insults while the rest of the council wastes time
City council met this week. The highlights: half a dozen members of the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty stormed the council floor in support of the city’s homeless, and Rob Ford managed to insult the majority of the world’s population when he stepped back in time and announced that “Oriental people work like dogs.” He later stated that he never meant to offend “anybody from any community.” In other words: the highlights were the freaky circus sideshows. As far as the actual business of council is concerned, the only thing worth mentioning is how long it took to accomplish so little.
First, full disclosure: aside from watching a bit of the proceedings here and there over the Web, I missed the whole thing, and to be honest, for this particular council meeting I thank heaven for Other Obligations. Though the council chamber itself is arranged in a half-round formation, councillors manage to talk in full circles for hours on end. They wind up, predictably, in the same place they started—circles tend to work that way. On Monday, they took four hours to discuss the greening of the city’s fleet of vehicles, only to unanimously adopt the policy. It seems every councillor feels the need to speak on whether city vehicles should shut their engines off rather than keep them idling, even though they are all of the same opinion.
It’s hard to fathom how these debates could be considered a good use of elected officials’ time. A couple of councillors I spoke with yesterday openly expressed their frustration to me. One noted that when the atonal opera of unanimity breaks out, he leaves the chamber and goes back to his office to get some real work done. They don’t bother listening to each other; why should anyone else? I suggest council put the following motion up for a vote: “be it resolved that council proceedings are inefficient.” I bet it would be unanimously passed, after two days’ worth of airy theorizing and recriminatory finger pointing over who is to blame.
Allow me to end this post by waving one of my grinding axes: one of the things that would help alleviate this problem would be political parties. Each party’s designated critic on environmental issues could speak, and council could accomplish the same task in less than 30 minutes.