Today I got in front of my TV to watch some CNN. I was confronted with the BREAKING NEWS that Speaker John Boehner was trying to get his totally fractured party to vote one way on his proposed budget/debt-ceiling plan. After a few hours of waiting, Boehner didn’t get anything done, the vote didn’t happen, and the United States continues to be stuck in a terrible political game that threatens the global economy and the welfare of a nation.
Meanwhile, here in Canada, in the fine city of Toronto, democracy is working just as it should.
Toronto recently elected Rob Ford as Mayor. The best way to describe Ford is as the Canadian version of a tea-party clown, only much more obnoxious. Now Rob Ford is tabling cuts to municipal services based on the recommendations of the recent KPMG Report Core Services Review. The report highlights ways for the City of Toronto to save millions of dollars by making bold cuts. Everything is on the line, from cutting funding to community organizations for the poor and troubled youth, to cutting public transportation lines and services, to closing public libraries.
That last one made for some headlines when Margaret Atwood supported a petition which garnered 39,000 signatures in an effort to keep all library branches open. Rob Ford’s brother, Doug Ford, responded by saying, “I don’t even know her. If she walked by me, I wouldn’t have a clue who she is,” and “Tell her to go run in the next election and get democratically elected.” This is the kind of idiotic mindset Toronto is dealing with.
The proposed cuts would systemically alter the entire fabric of the city, and many of the cuts would actually cost the city economically down the road.
Yesterday, the Toronto Executive Committee opened up the Core Services Review to a public forum. And that’s where something happened. I am sitting now, right now, watching a live stream of the open forum that is still going on and shows no sign of slowing down any time soon.
Ford’s actions have awoken a normally apathetic public. The people of the city have come out of the woodwork to have their voices heard. These are people that understand the power of democracy in action. They are standing up against the people who play to the apathy of middle class voters. They are standing up for the future of one of the greatest cities in the world (hopefully before it loses that lustre).
On Twitter I have seen people using the hashtag #citizenfilibuster. I love that. It’s a slap in the face to what has happened to American politics of late, and it’s the perfect description for what these true citizens are doing. They are taking as stand, not unlike Jimmy Stewart in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, for what’s right. Hopefully their voices are heard by the city councillors.
UPDATE: At one point late in the evening, Rob Ford left the room for roughly an hour. A lot of people speculated about what he was up to. Now we know at least one of the things he did. He called into a radio show on TSN Radio to talk CFL (that’s Canadian Football, for all y’all ‘mericans). While on the line he also took some shots at the people coming down to City Hall. That’s real nice, Ford. Real nice.
This is what democracy looks like, and ain’t it beautiful?