Bob's Blog: Politicians Say the Darndest Things
Yes, Mayor Rob Ford says some dumb things. So many that the media seem to be hanging on his every word – waiting for him to say another dumb thing.
But Ford isn’t the only politician to ever put his foot in his mouth.
Remember Art Linkletter? The Moose Jaw-born entertainer used to have a TV show where, among other things, he talked to kids. That segment was called Kids Say the Darndest Things.
Inspired by Linkletter and, as a student of and one-time participant in municipal politics (I’ve now been in recovery nearly six years), I’ve kept my own list. I call it my Politicians Say the Darndest Things List. Here are some pearls of ignominy from that list with accompanying editorial comment.
• “If someone is going to stab me in the back I wanna be there.”
– Allan Lamport, Mayor of Toronto 1950-1954.
It’s hard to get to every meeting in municipal politics.
• “You can listen with your eyes closed.”
– A Halton councillor advising yours truly back in 1992.
Sometimes the public thinks politicians don’t pay attention but that’s not correct.
• "What the hell do I want to go to a place like Mombasa? I'm sort of scared about going out there, but the wife is really nervous. I just see myself in a pot of boiling water with all these natives dancing around me."
– Mel Lastman, Mayor of Toronto 1997-2003
We’re told this bit of “humour” from the Bad Boy had no impact on Toronto’s 2008 Olympic bid.
• You’ve got “Deputy Mayor” beside your name in the program. When I was Deputy Mayor I never did.
– A Burlington Councillor said this to me one night when it was my turn to fill in for the Mayor, who had better things to do that night.
Municipal politicians crave recognition even if it was just for the largely symbolic role of Deputy Mayor.
• “I only ran for mayor because the others were dodos.”
– John Sewell, Mayor of Toronto 1978-80
I felt the same way. I get that from my father, who served in the Sherbrooke Fusiliers and at parades was the only one in the regiment marching in step. That’s what my grandma told me anyway.
• “I deny the allegations and I defy the allegators.”
– Allan Lamport again
The lesson here: Always keep on the lookout for reptiles crawling out of your municipal water-treatment facilities.
• “Do you get lobbied? I don’t get lobbied.”
– A Burlington colleague asked me this with a straight face, I swear, when I was trying to get approval for a protocol to register lobbyists.
I guess I didn’t get lobbied but I sure had a lot less friends when I left municipal politics.
I’ll be back with more on another day.
Bob Wood is a housing and poverty advocate and former two-term Burlington City Councillor who is building a bed-and-breakfast with his wife on Lake Erie.