Ominously, a strong wind and rain storm entered our territory this morning. What is really unusual is that the wind is from the south, so the air is eerily warm outside despite the howling and lashing. It`s plus 10, which is unusual for late October. Outside my window, I see the blue spruce bending dangerously in the gale force winds, the red arms of the Devil`s Ninebark waving frantically, and golden leaves whipping past my eyes as I sit by the window typing. The rain is lashing down something fierce, but I had a strange idea to go walk in this fierce weather to clear my head.
I heard a soft pat-pat, pat-pat in the front porch; looking through the glass of the front door window, I called out, Oh no! There`s water all over the floor of the porch!
Off I went to find my mop and some pails. It seems the wind has whipped the rain against the front exterior brick wall and water is dripping down from the balcony above the sun porch. Then, suddenly, the electricity went out. As the day is so dark and dreary, the inside of this old Victorian house is also dark, so off I went to find some candles to spark some light in the kitchen.
Sydney, I said to my lovebird who busied herself making a nest out of papers in her downstairs cage, you would not survive this weather if you were out doors today. No way. It`s not a lovebird kind of day. You`ll never survive out there.
What is actually depressing, however, is not the weather. It`s that both in my city, Thunder Bay, and in Toronto, the capital of Ontario, folks last night have elected conservative mayors, Keith Hobbs and Rob Ford respectively, who rode on the populist support bandwagon of getting tough on crime and `fiscal responsibility` (you can always tell the conservative candidates when these two head the top of their list of `change`), and the illusive mantra of making city governance more transparent and accountable to the people.
Of course, the solutions on how they will do that emerge from a blind spot, from a narrow scope of missing the social and historical power relations and disadvantages of race, class and gender, that shape people`s choices in life. Shades of Mike Harris, Evelyn Dodds, and Stephen Harper, to name a few `commonsense` politicians. Indeed, Rob Ford`s father was a MPP, a backbencher in the Mike Harris Tories.
Who knows? Maybe Thunder Bay will build another jail. Maybe we can privatize the ones we have while we`re at it. That`ll bring in some more lower-paying jobs without addressing any of the issues of why we are hiding away drug-addicted, alcohol-abusing, and traumatized folks in jail cells. Hopefully our new mayor won`t look to Toronto`s new mayor for guidelines as Ford is planning to privatize garbage collection.
Since most of the previous councillors of our city council were re-elected--only one new face-- (and we have only two women out of 13 positions which is shamefully low female representation in municipal politics), I wonder how our new mayor, Keith Hobbs, will be achieving his said goals of `change` if everyone on the council except one person is the same or has been in the job before. Is he planning to be `the leader`? the hero beacon of change? authoritarian? ... planning to bring police sergeant methods to city hall? Yet, he self-describes as having been a peacekeeper in his former job. Funny this didn`t seem to materialize in his election campaign. Perhaps it`s perspective; I am sure there are many folks who don`t equate the male-dominated institution of policing as a site of peacemaking.
Our new mayor and the new Toronto mayor share more than backlash politics, i.e. conservative political ideology and the get-tough on crime approach that supposedly will clean up house the old-fashioned way. Both could be described as having the 4 A`s style of dealing with those they don`t agree with: aggressiveness, antagonism, abrasiveness, arrogance. Type A personalities. Now, these characteristics may be at times necessary -- especially for those who have been at the brunt end of these top-down methods for years -- but I am sick of white men in power taking up the same tired old tactics while espousing change.
Why does this concept of `change` not excite me?
I think I`ll go for that walk, after all.