What I Said About Joe

By Jason Menard

I’m not a rube; I’m not a patsy; nor am I ignorant. Yet you wouldn’t know that because, according to some of the self-professed arbiters of what’s right in London, because I don’t think that Mayor Joe Fontana should be forced to step down, I must be one of the aforementioned three.

It seems many in this so-called London, ON Twitterverse (and it’s orbiting social networks) can’t get the simple fact that disagreeing with the motion asking for the mayor to step down does not directly equal approval of Fontana’s behaviour or the situation the city finds itself in.

Simply put, in my mind, this matter wasn’t as black and white as some would have you believe.

So let me spell it out. Actually, let me paraphrase here what I said to my Ward councillor, both via e-mail and on the phone a week-and-a-half ago, when I shared my feelings with her over the phone.

Shocking, isn’t it? Instead of sniping at people over Twitter, I chose to make my voice heard to my elected representative. And I had a very engaging one-hour conversation with her. Sure, I didn’t live Tweet it, but I’d still like to think that actually talking to an elected representative — as opposed to talking about the action on-line or spending my time thinking of cutesy nicknames — is engagement. I could be wrong.

In bullet points, my side of the conversation was as follows:

  • I don’t know if Joe is guilty, but it doesn’t look good;
  • I don’t trust Joe as far as I could throw him;
  • I don’t necessarily believe that where there’s smoke, there’s always fire, but I’m having a hard time seeing through the cloud here;
  • That said, I don’t want you (my councillor) to vote to remove him from office;
  • That said, if he’s guilty, I think he has a moral obligation to step down of his own volition;
  • That said, if he’s innocent, I think he should fight tooth and nail to keep working;
  • And council has to stop playing these stupid playground games and come together for the city as a whole;
  • Hey, weren’t you part of the Fontana 8? And now you’re not because you spoke against him? Yet “the arbiters” swapped you out for someone else and the Fontana 8 designation still exists… So is it an actual group of people or a convenient term to throw on any majority?
  • I don’t want the precedent set that sees any councillor potentially compromised and forced to step aside for the duration of the legal process, as it could be manipulated by those who chose to levy allegations maliciously for personal or political gain;
  • That two years is a long time and to step aside — if he’s innocent — for the remainder of his term is a pretty big pill to swallow;
  • That the mayor has only one vote and, as my elected representative, you have a responsibility to vote in the best interests of my Ward;
  • That the mayor is but one vote on council, so there are natural checks and balances in place;

And, of course, that if he is guilty and he’s merely prolonging the inevitable, then all the fury and fire of council, combined with the full might of the legal system, should be brought down on his head.

Clear? Hope so.

You see, not every vote against something directly correlates to a vote for the opposite. Sometimes a vote against something is, in fact, a vote for something else entirely.

It’s called seeing the world as it actually is — not only in conveniently black and white terms. Of course, that requires listening, open-mindedness, and perspective. Sadly, these are all things that are often sorely lacking in London.

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