What city hall needs is to go to the dogs

A Town Crier Community Column

I recently welcomed a new member into my family. He’s a fluffy black and white ball of bouncing joy — my Oreo. It’s been many years since I’ve had a dog and I am learning many things about having this wonderful presence in my life.

One of the greatest gifts of having a dog in this community is that it creates an immediate rapport with everyone you meet, especially other dog owners. It’s remarkable how a dear, curious, rambunctious little dog can melt away all the walls we build around ourselves. Ultimately, the conversations, though short, involve discussions of care, habits and, thoroughly implied, love.

We see a better side of people with a dog at our side. For a few brief moments, all the concerns and worries of our everyday life, including the messages of doom and gloom coming from our so called leaders in Ottawa and at city hall, are dispelled. I think a big reason people have pets is to reaffirm life, to show how much we care, to provide unconditional love and only ask for a wag of the tail, a chin upon your lap. It’s unfortunate we cannot connect with the issues of our community, province and country and world with same level of selflessness and deep care, and enthusiasm and a positive attitude.

I know it’s hard to do when all around us we hear daily how harder times upon us, accompanied by the impossibly childish current political malaise trumpeted by our media.

We learned only recently from Justice Morton that the elected and appointed members of the Toronto Police Services Board, the public’s voice on security and police matters in our city, were kept in the dark and sidelined in the preparations of the G20 security plans — in effect, rendering the public voice mute in these important preparations. Already, the right-wing media is preparing the ground for more service cuts with musings about cutting areas like the number of homes for the aged. Let’s not forget the Harper majority government’s ‘Chicken Little’ routine that the sky is falling — sapping our confidence in everything from our ‘Made in Canada’ employment insurance program to the viability of the real estate market in Toronto.

Maybe we should give messieurs, Ford, Flaherty and the right-wing cabal at city hall each a puppy. Maybe by exercising the caring and compassionate muscle that a dog engenders, they will find ways to improve the public realm that are generous, heartfelt and positive — instead of brutal cutting and punitive sanctions, which are the bromides of the uncaring.

There are different ways of doing things. I don’t know anyone who has achieved success by starting from a negative premise. We need to insert into the public debate the notion of care, balance and hopefulness. We live in the most blessed country and city in the world — by anybody’s standards. We need to recognize the good. Our job is to ensure its continuation. We need to get to know each other. We talk a great deal about community in the abstract. In reality we are much fractured along economic, social and ethnic lines. We need a device to break down those barriers that prevent us from finding positive solutions to our civic problems. That’s what caring and knowing does.

Truly let’s give it over to the dogs. It should be a dog’s world.

About this article:

By: Sandra Bussin
Posted: Jul 20 2012 1:57 pm
Filed in: NEWS
Edition: Toronto