About four months ago, I was forced to move from my old apartment. I wish I could tell you it was for something exciting, like staging a ritual pagan sacrifice in the living room or being caught base-jumping from the balcony. Sadly, the landlord just sold it to someone who wanted to live there.
I regretted leaving that place – I’d grown to like it, as well as my neighborhood, and especially the people who represented me in government. My federal MP Olivia Chow was a charming pragmatist, a Humphrey-Bogart-esque antihero in amazing boots. Her world-weary idealism was nicely complemented by the nerdish übercompetence of my city councillor, Adam Vaughan. They are both urban progressives representing a progressive urban neighbourhood, quietly going about the drudgery of being a politician. They say nothing outlandish nor make cynical promises they intend to break. With the exception of Olivia’s dubious choice in spouses, there is hardly a whiff of scandal between them. Unless Olivia decides to come out against abortion, or Adam confesses a jones for kiddie porn, their electorate will probably keep returning them to office.
And therein lies the problem of competent elected officials. Chow and Vaughan are kind of like NASA astronauts – so good at their jobs that they’ve managed to make what could be intensely exciting seem mind-numbingly boring. They don’t stir up any intense passions in people (although I do find Olivia rather MILF-y). Perhaps if they were screw-ups like Toronto’s new mayor Rob Ford, people would might get more emotional.
It’s a funny quirk of Canadian politics that more votes get cast for the mayor of Toronto than our country’s Prime Minister, and this week more Canadians voted for an amateur Chris Farley impersonator than any elected official in the land. There was lots of hand-wringing in Hogtown over Ford’s candidacy; that he is an artless, scandalous, homophobic bigot, prone to public drunkeness and outrageous promises. Oh, and his head looks like a blood blister.