The Things that Unite Us

Doug Ford and I don’t agree about . . .
well, about anything, really.

Kathleen Wynne, the former Liberal premier of Ontario, is being interviewed on the Ottawa CBC Radio morning show. Monday night in Toronto, Conservative Premier Ford will unveil Ms. Wynne’s official portrait, as all succeeding premiers have done for their predecessors.

It’s a big moment for her, sounds like. Of course the bad news is that this means that she is no longer premier: We don’t hang portraits of the current office holder. But the good news is that she’s being honoured for her tenure in that position: for her service, as politicians of all stripes are wont to say about their own work.

Apart from that general honour, though, hers will be the first portrait of a woman to hang in this collection of portraits of former premiers and Lieutenant-Governors. She says how important it is to her that little girls will now “see themselves” in that corridor.

But for all that it’s a big moment, fraught with history and protocol, it’s pretty clear she’d rather have another presider than Premier Ford. Maybe any other presider. Because, after all . . .

Doug Ford and I don’t agree about . . .
well, about anything, really.

Really, Ms. Wynne? Really? Not the value of family or community or faith in something bigger than ourselves? Not the importance of our system of laws and our aspiration to be a society that follows the rule of law? Not the need to protect our public democratic institutions that give a voice to our individual opinions or the private agencies that give hands to our charitable impulses?

Give me a break.

But he is the premier and it’s the office that matters
so I’m sure we’ll rise above partisan issues.

Well, Doug Ford is the premier now, although you don’t give him the courtesy of that title, even though “it’s the office that matters.” The reason we wait until a premier is out of office to honour them is because it is about the office, not the politics. I didn’t hear anyone injecting partisan issues into this portrait unveiling until you did: Certainly the interviewer didn’t ask about it. In sports, they call that an unforced error.

(Actually, for all your self-reported partisan differences, I expect Premier Ford and you would agree on at least one other thing if you were both being honest: That it’s a lot easier to spend way more taxpayer money than the province takes in, as you did, repeatedly, than it is to try to back us out of that unsustainable situation, as he is allegedly sort-of kinda trying to do, however badly.)

Anyway, at least for tonight, maybe you could take a break from partisan issues. And for tomorrow and tomorrow after that? Maybe then too.

I don’t suppose you’d believe that you could agree with even a fictional Republican about anything, either, but I’d like you to take a look at this quote from The West Wing. (Background: The Democratic president relinquishes the office because his daughter has been kidnapped and he’s being extorted to do Something Bad for America. There is no vice-president for a reason I forget — maybe he died recently — and so the Republican Speaker of the House is sworn in to be president until the First Daughter is rescued. [Wild, eh? At least from our Canadian perspective.] Anyway, here he’s talking to the apprehensive and suspicious White House staff. To get the feel of it, think Nancy Pelosi taking over from Donald Trump.)

I’m not the enemy, you know.
The things that unite us
are far greater than the things that divide us.
John Goodman as Speaker/President Walken

So give the partisanship a rest, Ms. Wynne, even every now and then. Do it for the little girls, so that they’ll see themselves in those portraits in some aspect beyond their gender. So that they’ll see leaders who share their own hopes for their community and their country, who inspire them to respect and work with all people, and who know that the things that unite us are far greater than the things that divide us. And not just on TV.


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5 Responses to The Things that Unite Us

  1. Pingback: The Things that Unite Us: Part 2 – Traditional Iconoclast

  2. John Whitman says:

    Isabel – maybe it’s a case of, “Liberals just can’t help being Liberals!”

  3. Tom Watson says:

    I think the problem is that Politics has become increasingly partisan and thence increasingly divisive. If we do it, it’s right; if the other side does the same thing, it’s wrong.” And rarely do the twain meet.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Tom – Yes, that relative morality does seem to be at the root of things – that, and the unwillingness to admit (even to yourself?) that the opponents have some good ideas. And in Canada, a lot of what we disagree about is means, not ends. It should result in less intensity, but it doesn’t seem to.

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