While there were no reports of pitchforks and torches at last week’s Ward 2 community meeting the conversation between residents and Councillor Doug Ford amounted to nothing more than an angry mob chanting for them to get out.

The evil, awful threat to the neighbourhood so dangerous that Ford went beyond calling them bad neighbours to declare they they’ve “ruined” and “destroyed” the community?

Three challenged youths with autism.

The exclusionary politics of Doug Ford and Ward 2 residents is only the latest in a disturbing trend of selfish populism — and there is an important lesson to be learned here.

In the past three and a half years of Ford mayoral rule we’ve become accustomed to the chants of ME! ME! ME! defining political discourse. A small registration tax on vehicles to raise hundreds of millions of dollars for programs and infrastructure for the entire city? I can’t see how that directly benefits ME so I want it scrapped. Bike lanes along Jarvis? I have a misguided impression that this negatively impacts ME so I want them removed. New transit projects that serve a large portion of the city’s transit bound, low income service class residents? I don’t see how it helps ME so I want it cancelled. New subway stops? ME! ME! ME! I want them here by ME!

The attitude that your opinion is the best one and the right one is common enough in politics — rare is the politician willing to change their mind — but this attitude is sick evolution. The belief that one’s opinion is not only the best but also the only one that matters and should be heard is creeping out of Etobicoke backyards and into general discourse from both the right and the left.

Toronto has been gripped by an inability to compromise coupled with segments of the population terrified of change that doesn’t fit their own personal paradigm. The so-called Kensington Market Walmart, a big box development that would have been built beyond the fringes of the hipster neighbourhood enclave, was a perfect example of the same behaviour on the left. The screams of residents amounted to no more than those who opposed existing bike lanes. Only MY opinion of what makes a neighbourhood pretty and functional matters! Screw anyone who could benefit from a big shop on the outskirts of my area! No discussion! I’m right, the end!

The same crowd resurfaced after winning that battle to wage a war against a proposed Loblaws location at College and Spadina for fear it would hurt small businesses in the hip area more than regular brushes with city health inspectors could. Consumers, this group believes, don’t deserve the right to cheaper alternatives or even a choice of their own mind about where to shop for groceries.

Kathleen Wynne even bowed to the me-first-me-only crowd while unveiling a part of her pre-election transit plan: “I had said all along that funding has to be fair, I am not going to ask the people in North Bay to pay for transit in the GTA. That has never been part of our plan.”

Apparently in some grand misunderstanding of how a large regional government works the civics classes of North Bay never taught these folks that taxes from cities like Toronto help to pay for many a provincial service up there as much as their taxes could and should work towards better transit for Ontario’s cities.

Wynne was wrong to reinforce such ignorance as much as Karen Stintz and Adam Giambrone were wrong to reinforce this same model of us-versus-them over the Scarborough subway expansion debate.

It’s nauseating to listen to and frustrating the deal with. God forbid you find yourself stuck between these two polar camps of ideological intolerance.

The fruit of this attitude stoked is the hideous selfishness that came into full form at last week’s Ward 2 meeting, and while Doug Ford’s very public, raw, and crude views on the proper place of those born with disabilities (indoors and out of sight, just to be clear) are what make him the head of this beast it shouldn’t be forgotten that the arms, legs, body, and soul of this destructive creature come from the unbridled shortsightedness and selfish views of the neighbours who were tripping over each other to deliver their own damning rebuke of a group of children who, by all reasonable logic, should be treated with compassion and kindness even when we aren’t capable of giving the same to one another.

But reasonable logic has no place among the nastiest of the ME! ME! ME! crowd.

Take, for example, these teeming slices of humanity recorded from the meeting by the Etobicoke Guardian.

“This is not a place for mental people. This is a residential area. Why don’t you build a house out on a farm?”

“What do I say to my three kids under the age of seven when one of these kids freaks out?”

“This is a community for people, not for that.”

One thing is certain, the community has indeed been ruined. Not by a house for the incapacitated, as Doug Ford believes, but this community has rotted from the inside out with the virus of selfishness stripping the caring and compassion from the bone leaving behind the mouthy and pushy husk of a neighbourhood present at that meeting.

The news gets worse, the virus has already infected the city and provincial levels and has national and global aspirations.

In striving for the perfect quiet yard at the expense of excluding those most needing and deserving of a community’s compassion these folks did a fine job of destroying their own community long before the Griffin Centre ever opened its doors.



Follow Travis on Twitter at @TravMyers.


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