Best to Jack

“Why can’t Ford die?”

“I can’t afford to die.”

Miscommunication and lunch on the grass at Jimmy Simpson Park in east Toronto is the subject of today’s posting. There we were, my friend Richard and I, stretched out with a view to maple branches and sky discussing Canadian political leaders: Rob Ford, Toronto mayor. Jack Layton, NDP leader and my member of parliament.

Jack Layton quit politics yesterday, we hope temporarily. Cancer has returned. He looks and sounds so terribly ill it breaks my heart. He got the party into official opposition status and then his sickness returned.

Layton used to be a city hall councillor. I’d often see him and his wife and fellow politician, Olivia Chow, pedal their bicycles up to political rallies and demos throughout the city. I once walked a picket line with them.

Rob Ford is hated by those I love (although, I admit, some I love still don’t hate him. I fail to understand this, but there it is.) Ford threatens to slash funding to motherhood things like libraries, daycares, and swimming pools. He also plans to kill funding to arts groups and individual artists. There goes any hope I might have had to winning a Toronto Arts Council Grant next go-round.

So back there in the park, I rolled away from Richard because I wanted to watch a grey-speckled pigeon peck free a single curl of pasta from beneath a stone, a few inches from my elbow. The bird had a nasty lump on its beak and he seemed hungry. But as I rolled away, Richard mis-heard my words.

“Why can’t Ford die?” I said. “I can’t afford to die,”  he heard.

But none of this is funny. Death is not funny and I don’t wish it on anybody, not even this man I despise. I don’t wish it on him; I don’t wish it on Layton; I don’t wish it on myself, and I don’t wish it on the ugly pigeon.

But I do want a forum, like this blog, to attack with words the evil doings of this uncivil leader. And, more importantly, I want those of you who read these words and who live in Toronto to call Mayor Ford and leave a message.

He promises to return all calls.

Call 416-397-3673 and here is a suggested script:

“Hello Mayor Ford, my name is … and I’m leaving this message at (whatever time and day it is). I disagree with your intended cuts to the public libraries (or whatever else you disagree with.) My phone number is … and please return my call.”

Meanwhile, if I were the praying kind I’d pray for Layton. And for our city.

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About Nor

I'm a creative non-fiction writer, with a special interest in memoirs and obituaries--life stories, local histories with flesh & blood anecdotal details. I'm also beginning to create podcasts of people's stories and expanding their audiences. I'm a diarist, an editor, and a political activist. I live in Toronto, Ontario, Canada and spend days tapping keys or staining my fingers in ink.
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