Spilling the Kool-Aid

Now that we’re post-mayoral election, many people have asked me why I haven’t pursued a political office given my 40 years of active municipal service as a volunteer in different community organization levels.

The answer is easy. While others embrace the status quo, I choose to challenge it. I seek transparency and truth, unclouded by illusion or party interests. While everyone is reaching for the Kool-Aid, I’m trying to spill it. Without accessing it, everyone has to see the truth, not a manufactured version rooted in illusion tweaked explicitly for themselves or their party’s interests. Bipartisanship in municipal politics is essential, but recent events have shown it isn’t the case, as demonstrated by the political engine that pushed our new mayor into power. I wish it could be “one for all and all for one,” but it can’t for reasons I’m still trying to figure out. If there’s a pothole in the road, each political party wants to address it as though it’s limited to only their interpretation. When all anyone wants is for it to be fixed practically, reasonably and cost-effectively.

Generally speaking, politics can be an ego-driven forum, something middle-aged women recognize. Someone runs for office claiming their interests are humanitarian and inclusive, filled with innovative ideas, who claim to advocate for their constituents, then once elected, they get into a track that isn’t remotely recognizable to what was originally their platform.

Add to that, that politics is a Hollywood for ugly people. A place you can get your fifteen minutes of fame. My experience has revealed that many politicians behave no differently than demanding toddlers or teenagers saddled with angst, which happens to my wheelhouse. Capable of managing those archetypes akin to roping in a wild horse. Reactivity and emotions are something I’ve observed operating as extensions of the ego. Transparency and facts are paramount and are also non-negotiable, making politicians uneasy. My moniker, “Divine Disruptor,” aka DD, speaks to my commitment to uphold these principles.

It’s not lost on me that if I ran my business as the government runs theirs, I’d have been broke years ago. I can’t flagrantly spend money on any contract without ensuring all terms secure my interests and protect me should things go south. Something the previous provincial government never heard of when it came to the Oakville gas plant, leaving the taxpayers paying a bill for services not rendered. Money that could otherwise have easily created housing for the most vulnerable. Pissing money away is, sadly, one of the government’s twisted strengths. Having CRA staff believe they were somehow eligible for CERB has now tainted the financial treasury of the country, showing how systemically broken the government is when it comes to managing money. Now the Federal government wants Canadians to pay for their government’s pandemic overspending. Oops! We get left with their lack of transparency and accountability concerning their spending decisions. Not my monkey, not my circus. The powers that be could’ve easily input a two-tier system so accounting could be had, but they didn’t. I don’t work for the CRA, but even I saw how that simple approach would have prevented massive fraud. Ineffective fiscal management resulting in misused funds and lack of accountability impact critical services and hinder progress.

As a post-menopausal woman, my passion drives me to advocate for meaningful change and the well-being of others. These issues make my rage soar and motivate me to act out of concern fueled by passion. Having the persistence of a rottweiler on a bone, resilience and the willingness to go beyond my comfort zone, I advocate for what is in balance and serves the higher good. These are natural gifts that come to us at this stage in life.

As a mature woman running out of fucks to give, my common sense and inclusive perspective threaten those who wish to keep political illusions alive and well. For several years, I have rallied and advocated aggressively for small businesses that are the nucleus for bringing vitality and safety to neighbourhoods, making those communities desirable to live in. The more they flourish, the less crime and cost for policing. Neighbourhoods are as much ecosystems as anything else. Politicians must be mindful to keep them in balance. An over-saturation of any one thing will ruin a neighbourhood. Regent Park is an excellent example of needing to transcend to realize its glory.

A modular building situated in the west end with 44 units was constructed with the intention of housing those previously homeless. There is a similar unit in the east end. Both are small structures that are staffed, allowing the neighbourhood to envelop them. They were thoughtfully constructed, resulting in a thriving neighbourhood for all, with those now housed able to reclaim their dignity. It’s not only working. It’s a stellar success. That’s progressive and creative thinking, initiating sustainability that works. That approach must be applied to all the issues we’re wrestling with as a city, a province and a country, including finances. It’s a project void of ego filled with compassion. Peppering this approach throughout the city and province would make a sizeable dent concerning the homeless issue. Still, instead, Dougie, our Premier, is sitting on top of 22 billion doing nothing, forgetting he’s supposed to represent all Ontario residents, not just a half dozen developers.

Though Canada has impressive thinkers who are intelligent outliers, we can’t attract them to our political arena, validating their intelligence by having only a few on Toronto City Council.

Resistance is the other thorn that politicians react to. Their feelings and opinions take precedence without substantial data in assessing a situation, considering instead how it affects their currency of votes and not the well-being of their constituents. Alternatively, the public forgets that anyone who applies for public office works for them. Next to the essential phone numbers of my immediate family is the contact info for my municipal, provincial and federal representatatives, and I happily let them know where they can do better.

Apathy has grown, and I understand why and how historically that’s dangerous. When people lack the motivation to participate in civic life with the political process, it becomes challenging to address critical issues and implement necessary reforms. Apathy can contribute to the consolidation of power by authoritarian regimes creating an environment where leaders can operate without accountability or opposition. Apathy is its seed. It persecutes social injustice allowing oppressive systems to discriminatory practices to persist. There’s corruption and mismanagement. When people don’t demand transparency and accountability, it creates an environment where corrupt practices can thrive, hindering economic development. It also leads to low voter turnout resulting in a limited representation of diverse voices and perspectives, weakening democracy and inhibiting inclusive decision-making processes, ultimately stagnating society.

Jean Giono is the author of the children’s book “The Man Who Planted Trees.” The story allegorically recounts a lone shepherd’s incredible journey to reforest a barren valley in the Provence foothills of the Alps. It illustrates how one person can make a massive difference. We’re conditioned to believe that the notion of one person changing the course of a ship doesn’t exist, while our history books frequently reiterate that they do.

I’ve been repeatedly told it’s impossible to pursue complex issues and make any significant dent. Still, I’ve not only altered but have been able to hand those issues off to those who could take them to the finish line—resolving complex matters that have benefited everyone, not just some. The recognition doesn’t interest me; the change does. The words I meet up with daily are ‘can’t,’ ‘impossible,’ and ‘won’t happen,’ which are weak words that rest on a foundation of fear, resistance and disinterest. I didn’t need a pandemic shutting down the world to recognize that the word ‘impossible’ is an imposter and doesn’t actually exist. It can’t in a universal world of infinite possibility. Anything is possible. It’s only a label closing a potential door of possibility. It’s laziness. The word ‘can’t’ is a choice, so I engage someone who can, and ‘won’t happen’ is best in the hands of someone who recognizes ‘why not’ is a far better approach.

I’m not a thorn in anyone’s side. Only a person who recognizes the light in people and is invested in those who claim to represent them be held to their highest standard. By doing that, integrity and transparency are nearby. Anything less is deception. My motivations are pure for the betterment of all, as there exists no salary to hold others to the sacred purpose they have committed themselves to. The guiding principle that governs my efforts is that “compassion is for everyone, not just for some.”

No political party carries my intention, which is rooted in Love and compassion. If there were, we wouldn’t be wrestling with the issues we are. And therein lies why I can’t run for office. Refusing to drink the Kool-aid coupled with a mandate void of ego while seeking no personal political gain. It fits nowhere, yet the results from this approach fit everywhere.

To quote the Dalai Lama, “Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive.”