By Craig Funston
In my other clever column recently—not the dentist one, the politician one—I lamented the challenges of holding public office. There would be too many daily demands for this boy. Every elected official must be held accountable to his or her constituents, in one way or the other. I think I would disagree too much to be an effective representative.
If I took public office, I would feel constrained to hold that calling with the utmost honour and integrity. I believe I could, but I would likely fall flat on my face by saying the wrong thing at the right time, the right thing at the wrong time—or simply speak from my heart out, not from my teeth out.
You’ve read this column enough times to know I’m quite adept at that.
As you know, and as do millions of Americans now (thanks to the likes of Jon Stewart and other late-night talk-show hosts), there has been a headline-grabbing, gut-wrenching, nerve-wracking, and head-shaking run of antics by some of our eastern elected buffoons.
Whether it’s the mayor of Toronto (Ford), or those three senators from Ottawa (Duffy, Wallin, and Brazeau), Canada most certainly has a black eye for moral incompetence on the international stage. I know the latter three are being stripped of their status because of money issues, but, people, morality is always at the bottom of these things.
As for Rob Ford (I can’t bring myself to say “His Honour”), what an embarrassment! I have no idea what has taken the police so long to get to the bottom of his alleged misdemeanours. They say they have in their possession an indicting video of Mr. Ford smoking crack cocaine, as well as a mindless rant, but have yet to lay charges of some sort. I can guarantee that I could never get away with that.
It strikes me as inconsistent that, the higher you are up the proverbial food chain, the slower the wheels of justice turn. “Inconsistent,” of course, is a polite way of saying “double standard.”
I’m trying to follow the complete storyline in both cases. Unfortunately, my primary source is the electronic and radio media, so my information will be a little skewered. You might say that the left is rarely right—pun mercilessly intended.
Between the two parties—mayor and senators—there appear to have been a series of abuses of public offices, money, lifestyles, and trust–then their shameless (and persistent) denials, to boot.
In particular, Ford’s disgusting public shenanigans is just cause for him to resign. No one is perfect, starting with this columnist, but there is an understood protocol for all leaders, a higher standard of behaviour. If Ford wants to get drunk publicly, snort crack cocaine, or drop f-bombs (three allegations levelled at him), that is his business, not mine. However, if he chooses to maintain some sort of honour of the office of North America’s fourth-largest city, that is my business, not his.
And when his antics hit the international stage, he is representing Canada, not just Toronto.
A case in point would be my own profession: Teachers are held to (or at least should be) a high standard, because of their public and influential position. If they violate that honour, they should resign or be fired immediately. I am grateful for school divisions that still have the moxie to carry out said consequences.
Leadership is a strained, difficult calling. I think of parents, foremen, school administrators, employers—even church elders–to name a few spheres. It’s just so crucial to understand the standards of leadership these days. If we are chosen to lead, we should do it in an honourable way.
Beyond a common sense standard, there should be some sort of criteria or expectations for all said leaders to follow. If I had any clout, which I don’t, I would suggest that anyone choosing to lead any any one else should embrace the following guidelines. They’re not mine, but they have worked for centuries. I have summarized and re-phrased them, to make them more readable:
“Any one who leads should be of blameless reputation, a [person] marked by self-control and discretion; a [person] of a disciplined life, as well, they must be neither intemperate nor violent, but gentle; not fond of a fight, and free from the love of money.”
Just wonder if the likes of Ford, Wallin, Duffy, and Brazeau ever read those gems. They’re from the Good Book, and sure make a lot of sense to me.
I think we would all be better off as a nation if we applied such basic principles to ourselves and our leaders.