Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Toronto Council steps back from the brink on support for the Canadian Forces.

There are certain similarities between the civilian emergency services and the military, not least that they tend to be as much vocations as jobs, rarely overpaid or undertasked and in our heart of hearts those of us who aren't members of either find it hard to see what the attraction is, at least to the point of signing up for a contract. It's not altogether surprising then that members of Toronto's Fire and Emergency Medical Services organised the placing of "support the troops" decals on their vehicles.

That the Canadian Forces are involved in a harder task than at any time since Korea is surely undebatable. Yet there is a cohort of people in Toronto and Canada generally that oppose the war - fair enough - but target the Forces in doing so. The Forces, as I have noted previously, are politically directed. It is in my opinion perfectly logically coherent to wear a yellow ribbon while holding a sign calling for an end to the Afghan deployment - although those who are on the right would probably quibble with that.

Toronto City Council let itself down badly today, and none more so that Hizzoner, Mayor David Miller. He came out with a ludicrous statement that while Toronto's public servants could support the troops, it could only do so for a one-year non-renewable term. What this really meant is that he was annoyed that Fire and EMS got this through originally but at the first maintenance interval off they would go again. Councillors like Janet Davis and Pam McConnell weighed in. I was disappointed with this statement
"It's being used in a political way to say that you're either with us or against us," Coun. Adam Vaughan said. "You either support the troops or you don't support the troops and if you don't put a yellow ribbon on your car, what does that say about you?"
But it's not your car Adam, is it. No one is suggesting that councillors do this, just that they permit the Emergency Services to do what their unions want to show support.

Death intervened in the form of the roadside bomb which killed Cpl. Stephen Frederick Bouzane, Pte. Joel Vincent Wiebe and Sgt. Christos Karigiannis, 3rd Battalion PPCLI. A proposal to "disappear" the decals, having rapidly become public debate was now threatening to be a PR disaster. Miller reversed himself at the vote in Council which was recorded as unanimous because the left wing skulked outside the door rather than be true to their principals. McConnell is cited as having done so in various media reports, and I read in one place that Davis (who was on record as opposing the decals) did also but I don't have corroboration for that. According to this there were 39 yes votes which means six councillors either absent from the entire proceedings or just that vote.

Memo to any Councillors who skulked outside - you get paid to at least sit in the chamber during votes of this nature even if your concern for your re-election won't permit you to vote no in a losing cause.

It should also be noted by them that just because a minority opposes something doesn't make it cause for the City of Toronto to panic, just as it was when Rob Ford ranted against the City's support of Pride Week.
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