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MARTHA SEZ: Canadian bad boy

November 15, 2013
MARTHA ALLEN , Lake Placid News

Finally! Canada, our neighbor to the north, is trying to keep up.

I am happy to point out that Robert Bruce Ford, the mayor of Toronto, is the subject of scandal. Every time I listen to the news, I hear about something else he has done. As often as not, some public-spirited citizen on the scene has taken the trouble to make a video of the mayor's antics, so we can all see for ourselves how perfectly awful his behavior is.

In one video, when asked by a reporter whether he has smoked crack cocaine, he admits that he "probably" did, while in a "drunken stupor," as if the drunkenness somehow mitigates the drug offense.

If that is not enough to set our minds at ease, his sister Kathy, in another televised bit of video, asserts that Rob Ford is not an addict; she knows he is not an addict, because she herself was, or is. Plus, in the same video, his own mother assures us that Rob's predilection for mood enhancers does not interfere with his job as mayor of Toronto. Who would know better than she?

My personal favorite Rob Ford video is the one in which he lurches around a well-appointed living room - apparently, once again, in a drunken stupor - looking as if he is about to knock over a lamp at any moment and telling someone who is not in the picture, but whose voice can be heard egging him on, how he plans to murder an opponent. One thing Ford says he is going to do is "poke his eyes out." All of which is quite dreadful, and enormously entertaining.

The mayor has stated that all of this public exposure is "very embarrassing," although he does not intend to step down, and in fact plans to run again for office. And I know that it isn't very nice of me to add to Ford's embarrassment by reminding everyone of his televised shenanigans. As if anyone needs reminding.

I can't resist the temptation to mention Rob Ford's misdeeds, though, because it is so refreshing to see a Canadian politician behaving badly for once. We see American politicians acting in a ridiculous manner on a routine basis, and it gets tiresome.

Canada and the United States share so much history and culture that we are like members of the same family. Canada is the family goody-goody.

Look at gun violence. Canadians just across the border have a much lower incidence. Massacres just are not in their line. Canada's crime rate keeps going down, and is now the lowest it has been in 40 years. In Toronto, Rob Ford's city, it must be admitted that the crime rate is at a record low.

Another thing about the Canadians is the effortless way they go back and forth between fluent French and fluent American English. A Canadian once told me this joke: If a person who speaks two languages is bilingual, what do you call a person who speaks only one language? An American, he said. Ouch.

And then there's health care. Canadians socialized their medicine in the 1960s and 1970s. We Americans south of the border fear socialized medicine. Yet Canada spends a smaller percentage of its gross domestic product on health care than the United States does, and Canadians have a longer life expectancy and lower infant mortality rate than ours.

Canadians are able to pass legislation. Recently they discontinued the penny, for example, on the grounds that it costs more than one cent to make one. That's common sense.

You just don't see Canadians publicly making fools of themselves the way we do, either, at least not until now.

I remember once, years ago, when I was in college, the older generation in my family praising one of my cousins. Why couldn't we be more like Clarissa? Not only was she always washing dishes and folding laundry without being asked, but she was studious as well. For example, Clarissa knew how to convert ounces and pounds to grams and liters! The rest of us young people grumbled among ourselves. Clarissa was conversant with weights and measures because she was dealing drugs from the kitchen of her apartment, but we couldn't say anything about it for fear of implicating ourselves. How do you know? Our parents would have asked. Why didn't you say anything sooner?

I say the less Canada acts like our goody-goody cousin, the better we look.

Have a good week.



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