A couple of days ago I wrote about and brought attention to the disrespectful antics of Ontario Conservative MPP Toby Barrett and his attempts to link the celebration of D-Day with the flogging of the Ford Conservatives policy on the sale of beer. It was tacky, disrespectful and fully deserving of the scorn that it got. I would have hoped that others would have seen that and decided to learn from that lesson, but just one day later that proved to not be the case at all. But not, instead yesterday, while Canadians were remembering the sacrifices of our veterans in Normandy, another politician decided to disrespect the day in a way that just left me shaking my head and mad:
Upon reading this story the first time, I have to admit that I was just gobsmacked by the stupidity here. Of all of the days to debate that issue, of which I seriously question its merits, how in the Hell did this councillor allow it to go ahead on this very day? How tone deaf and self absorbed on his part. Do you know how easy it is to delay debating any issue on a city council agenda? It’s so bloody simple; just say something along the lines of “Hey, I just realized that this came up on today’s agenda, this really isn’t the best day to do this and out of respect for our veterans I would ask that we delay this until matter until the next meeting”. There, done. Simple and easy as can be. If this councillor had done just that and that alone, there would be no story here. Yet here we are. So why are we in this position? Why didn’t this councillor or one of his colleagues intervene to try to stop this from happening? Well it seems that this might have to do more with the councillor himself than anything else. Here is what he’s been up to since his re-election back in the Fall, according to the Global’s Richard Zussman:
Limit Canada Day celebrations? Reduce Christmas decorations? Banning horse-drawn carriages? Does this councillor walk around the city of Victoria with a giant “Kick Me” sign glued to his back? That “record of achievement” from the past half year says a lot about the apparent view of the world of this councillor, but in case you were in any doubt about him, he removed it all by putting out a short piece on Medium today to “address” this situation. And in what seems to be very true to form, he poured more gasoline on the fire:
Wow folks, he really doesn’t get it does he? That statement drips with condescension & elitism pouring out of every word, just digging his hole so much deeper. Instead of using that platform to apologize for the debate even happening on that day and trying to clear the air, instead he goes on the attack against the media itself for daring to report on this story instead of the big funding decision made on housing that they made during that same meeting. He calls it a basic case of “if it bleeds, it leads” and wipes his hands of it all before returning up the stairs into his ivory castle. Such crap from him, such crap.
I’ve got a dollars worth of free advice here for Mr. Isitt here, advice I doubt he’ll listen to. But I’m a nice guy and I’ll offer it anyway. First of all, by going ahead with that debate yesterday instead of postponing it, you Sir are the person who drew attention to this matter and away from the vitally important issues of housing. That wasn’t the medias doing, that was yours. You need to own that and it’s not the media’s fault for reporting on what was happening clearly before their eyes. It’s not the media’s fault for getting it; it’s yours for being so blind as to not see the obvious as it was dancing right in front of your face.
Secondly, one of my earliest media mentors taught me that when it comes to the media, “you don’t pick a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel…. They always get the last word”. And you know what, you’re learning that firsthand right now Mr. Isitt. By smearing the media for simply doing their job, you’re not helping nor cause nor are you helping any progressive minded voters or elected officials out there. You’re becoming a side show that is drawing attention away from all of those important issues you profess to care about. Think about that next time before you go off trying to link media members to the Alt-Right.
Finally, it’s never too late to say you’re sorry and it’s never too late to do the right thing. In this case, the right thing is to apologize and move on. You’re obviously not willing to do that at this point, which I think is sad. By being defiant and doubling down like you have, you’re just force feeding more oxygen to this story, keeping it going. In doing so, you’re just taking more and more attention away from the issues that you profess to care about and not helping anyone out.
Yesterday I was at home with my daughter; she was sick and needed to stay home from school. So in the morning we were watching the ceremony live from the beaches of Normandy together. As we were watching, she had many questions about what was happening, who the people there were and why it was that this day was so important. I took the time to explain it to her, to tell her the story of her great-grandfather, who was a part of the D-Day events, and to pass along this piece of our important history. By the time the ceremony ended, she came away with a better understanding of the importance of the day and why we do remember. For me, it was a chance to tell my daughter more about her great-grandfather, someone who I miss to this day and keep his history alive.
In my mind, that is why a day like yesterday was so important and that remembrance itself is so important. I would hope that a historian of all people would understand that concept, or why it is that haggling over the dollars and cents that it costs us to hold those days of Remembrance and who should foot the bill is in such bad taste or how it would be taken as disrespectful. But obviously that seems to have either gone over the head of Mr. Isitt or he’s just more concerned about other things than being respectful. And when I look at the things that Mr. Isitt has brought to the Victoria City Council to go after, I’m more inclined to believe it is the latter.
Who foots the bill for Remembrance Day is not a “federal”, a “provincial” or a “municipal” responsibility; it’s a Canadian one. That means that the idea of trying to fob off the expense to a certain federal department is a best a delicate, and at worse an offensive topic to debate on any day. If Mr. Isitt seriously believed in what he was looking to debate, he would have recognized the situation he was in, backed out and asked to push this topic to another day. Instead he thundered ahead, disregarding the views and feelings of others. He gaslighted veterans and others who he should have known would take offence to this, including many progressive minded people like myself. He should stop doubling down and apologize profusely for this whole series of events. It’s never too late to do the right thing, and if anything has gotten through to this councillor from this event, I would hope that it was that.