Dazed and confused

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Justin Trudeau may be a genius. Calm down, it’s just a thought. You see, he’s arranged it so that marijuana, grass, weed, whatever you want to call it, is being legalised just in time for the Municipal election. This could make a huge difference to the vote, if we could only get the candidates to inhale before we choose our new council. After all, the old saying goes: in vino veritas – in wine: truth. How much more might we get some truthful comments from would-be politicians (and has-been ones too) than from the effects of the evil weed?

Actually, it can’t be very evil if both Justin and Doug Ford are eager to bring it to you without fear of the law. At last week’s Association of Municipalities of Ontario [AMO] conference, a great deal of time was spent informing municipal politicians and staff about the coming legalisation and its impact on municipalities. Premier Ford was generous in his remarks to the conference. He promised to give municipalities the freedom to choose whether or not to allow outlets for weed in their neighbourhoods.

“We will consult with you and — even more importantly — empower you to get this right.

We will be introducing legislation that, if passed, will give each of you the ultimate say in whether you want physical cannabis retail stores in your communities”.

The mind boggles at the possibilities. Our municipal councils will have the power to make decisions like that. How do they decide? Will they have to conduct research into the effects of weed on their philosophy of government? Will we see clouds of smoke rise up from the desks in the theatre every week, as our brave and selfless representatives go to lengths above and beyond the call of duty to ensure that they can make informed decisions on whether to allow weed to be sold in North Grenville?

Yes, I am just dreaming: but the image does make me smile, I admit. Usually, during election campaigns, candidates try very hard not to be themselves. They would rather you see them as sober, respectable and responsible individuals, people who deserve your trust and your vote. For some of them this effort to give the right impression is more difficult than it is for others. But we all know better, or should. We’ve seen too many councillors and mayors to really believe the image candidates put forward. We know that, when they get elected and take their seats, another metamorphosis will take place. They will become superior beings, above the mundane concerns of regular people who waste their time worrying about things like good roads, recycling and taxes.

That’s why the whole weed thing could be just what we need. It is almost impossible for people to hold on to their dignity when they’re high as kites. Trying to be condescending and arrogant towards residents when you can’t stop giggling at nothing is almost impossible. Though, to be fair, there are one or two on the current council who would probably be com- pletely unaffected by grass in whatever form. But that, too, would help us decide who to vote for: no-one should hold elective office who is unable to giggle in public for no reason.

Noel Paul Stookey (of Peter, Paul & Mary fame) used to say that all candidates for elective office should be expected to sing to voters, because no-one can lie when they sing. How much more when they’re flying? It would be very helpful, and amusing, to have a member of council try to convince us that they care about our concerns while they’re smiling happily and pointing out the beauty of the red light on their microphone. Talk about transparency!

This is, sadly, a dream – a happy and precious dream – impossible to see fulfilled. Instead of thinking wonderful thoughts about blissed out politicians passing bylaws to paint every house in dayglow colours, or turning up at meetings dressed in tie-dyed kaftans, we’ll have to put up with worries about how they’re going to decide who gets the licence to sell weed in North Grenville. Or if anyone gets a licence at all.

It will be a dour and suspicious Gang of Four+1 that we’ll face after the election, no matter who gets the votes. Why? Because once elected, people almost can’t help taking themselves seriously, instead of taking the people and the issues seriously. So, the best we can do is choose members of council who have the best chance of resisting the urge to become too sober, too respectable, because, to be honest, we’ve had more than enough of that kind of thing, thank you very much.

But enough of this sombre reflection on municipal politics. Let’s, instead, continue to imagine our current council, and the hopeful candidates, having a session with senior staff in the Municipal Theatre. They’re all singing protest songs, giving peace signs, dressed in denim and cheesecloth shirts. There is a rising cloud of perfumed smoke rising from the desks and curling around the ceiling, as members of the public drift into the theatre with dazed looks on their faces. They stand confused, wondering why no-one had ever told them that council meetings were like this. Instead, we have what we have. North Grenville deserves better.

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