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November 28, 2013

Only the best and brightest should be chosen for elected office

William Conway

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In Canada, we enjoy the freedom to choose who we want to govern us at the various levels of government and our school boards.

People across Canada are elected to public office. The vast majority of them are upstanding citizens who work hard for their respective communities and make a difference in the lives of those who they have chosen to serve.

It is all those hard-working people we should sympathize with when we see what is going on in Toronto with their mayor, Rob Ford, and the mockery he has made of the mayor's office. And though his powers have been significantly reduced by Toronto council, that council was not able to remove him as mayor.

When you run for public office, you do so because you want to serve the people and be a leader of your community.

Those in such positions are held to a high standard, as they are an example to others, and they must be law-abiding citizens with high ethical standards.

Ford doesn't appear to exhibit any of the qualities expected of someone in public office. There is no doubt he likes to be in the public eye, but for all the wrong reasons. He has not shown good leadership qualities, as good leaders receive input and consider opinions before making decisions. Ford has simply done what he, and only he, thinks is correct.

He is not someone exhibiting a higher standard for others to follow — in fact, his standards and actions are lower than what most of us would find acceptable.

The voters of Toronto who elected Ford to the mayor's chair in 2010 must be wondering how it has all gone so wrong.

Prior to being elected mayor, he had spent 10 years as a city councillor without achieving anything significant. He was elected mayor mainly on the promise to clean up wasteful spending, which he has done with some success.

But the controversy surrounds his personal life, which is such a mess that it became front-and-centre for the world to see, embarrassing Toronto and providing plenty of material for comedians to exploit.

We must now look for lessons we can learn from this, to prevent another person like Ford from rising to this level of public office. As voters, we should also look at the lessons we can learn as we vote for those we want to represent us.

Ford has clearly violated the code of conduct we expect our government representatives to follow.

The fact he has admitted to purchasing and smoking drugs and driving a motor vehicle after drinking alcohol should have meant an automatic suspension from his duties as mayor, and there should be laws put in place to enforce this.

In an election, voters are essentially making the decision to hire people to run our governments.

There should be more unbiased information on each candidate.

Perhaps they could all be put through a series of interviews that would determine their suitability for public service, much the same way many companies go through an examination of candidates for positions in their business.

This scandal in Toronto has highlighted more than ever how important it is that we only have the best and the brightest serving in public office, and those not meeting this standard should be working in another occupation — which Ford may be doing after the next election.

William Conway, a lifelong resident of Cambridge, works as a project manager at an automation manufacturer.

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