Muncipal elections are in 2017. I expect the phrase "The Biggest Loser" to take on a whole new meaning.
The pit bull ban is a polarizing topic in Montreal. Well, at least it used to be. Until a bunch of passionate, well-organized people staged demonstrations, cited a wide variety of sources and literature over and over to support their case, and basically won the air war and convinced everyone (including me) that this is an ill-advised and pointless initiative.
This is how politics should work. I will be honest, I was indifferent to the whole issue. I don't have dogs, and don't plan to. Pit bulls are hardcore as far as breeds go, and as I understood it, my home province of Ontario had successfully banned them more than 10 years ago. So at first, I wasn't all that concerned about a pit bull ban. Again, I was not fervently pro-ban. It's just not something I was inclined to give much thought to.
But every day in the paper, and on social media, there were the grassroots. Regular people, who care about something, and who were willing to put themselves out there and make their case in the court of public opinion. Everything I heard was overwhelmingly anti-ban. Local opposition groups formed, facebook groups popped up, and several protests were staged all over the city. In this balkanized, half-merged island of municipalities, several outlying boroughs who had the autonomy to enact their own policy declined to adopt or support the ban. My local city councillor, Sterling Downey, has been active and vigilant on this issue, becoming the de facto spokesperson of the opposition on this at City Hall. I have to admire the guy's tenacity. He's fighting for something he believes in, and unlike most politicians who collect their fat paycheques and are all but invisible, I see him in and around town involving himself on the ground and making the evidence heard all the time.
And when I think about it, nobody has came forward on the other side to support this ban or passionately argue for it. Not at the grassroots level. Nobody, that is, except the person who enacted this ban, Montreal mayor Denis Coderre,
I have to disclose that I have never liked the mayor since his election in 2013, mostly because 1) it is obvious that he is really full of himself and 2) his constant preening and public gestures are ridiculous and embarrassing. I have found my media encounters with the mayor to go from the irritating to the grating. Why? Because he wraps himself up in the city's flag to assert that HE is in charge, HE knows how the world works, and all must bow before him. The utter self-aggrandizement this guy engages in is infuriating. From staging a photo-op with a jackhammer where Canada Post was going to install some community mailboxes, to announcing the opening of a publicly funded "anti-radicalization" centre in the wake of whatever Paris or Brussels attacks happened last year, to live tweeting every game played by this city's mediocre NHL team as if they were the 1987 Oilers, I just want to scream: "GET THE F____ OVER YOURSELF!" Canada Post is broke, it's not your job as a municipal politician to fight the threat of islamic terrorism, and believe it or not, the hockey team has announcers.
On a more personal level, the daycare one of my sons frequents was built on a piece of contaminated land that the city sold to them, saying it was decontaminated. The city then stiffed them with the decontamination bill. The only person who could intervene to fix the situation was the mayor, but he was unavailable for months. Like many other self-important jackasses who have held the chief magistrate job in Canada before him, he was continuing the trend of frequently jetting off to far-flung places like China on "economic development missions", mistaking himself for a Fortune 500 CEO when in fact he was just a politician flying 1st class on the taxpayer dime. I'm not sure what happened with the decontamination file.
But whatever. Those things all in the past, and I hadn't really thought of them until I wrote these paragraphs because, you know, I have a life and priorities or whatever.
Now, however, I have been inspired to write this because the mayor's annoying cockiness turned into a case of full-blown hubris, as he continues to dig his heels in and insist on this pit bull ban legislation, (which also contains a bunch of other random provisions placing further restrictions on all pet owners), despite there being almost certainly no political benefit in doing so. Let's recap the definition of hubris for any non-literary readers. It's really worth it in this textbook example:
A politician who you disagree with, but who acts out of naked self or party interest, is relatable or understandable on some level - he's at least acting rationally. A politician who brazenly refuses to listen to reason because he is so blinded by his own massive ego and conviction that he has a monopoly of knowledge on what's good for humanity is just the worst. Period.
Way to go, Denis Coderre. How many thousands of Montreal residents who had no opinion on pit bulls like me have you alienated? Next year's municipal elections promise to give Montreal a new season of "The Biggest Loser" they'll never forget.