A rare breed

It seems lately that all eyes are on Canada. Or, more accurately, all eyes are on our politicians, and all citizens of the world are wondering how a seemingly innocuous country could have engendered such madness and buffoonery. Don’t even, Italy. You can’t say nothing.

Yes, our senators have the math skills of (greedy) infants when calculating how much to claim in expenses. Yes, the mayor of Toronto smokes crack–but only when in a drunken stupor. And yes, Alberta has Freemen on the Land (ie: abusive libertarians) and perhaps the world’s first men’s rights organization/political party. Hell, most Canadians think our PM is a liar. (Citation unavailable because I made that up but it’s pretty true I bet.)

And Canada isn’t alone–it seems that every day a new story emerges of a politician doing or saying something really stupid, or, in many cases, acting against the interests of those who elected him/her.

But there are some good ones left. Here they are.


Joko Widodo, or Jokowi as he’s known by his supporters, is Jakarta, Indonesia’s governor and its first practitioner of “street democracy.” “Street democracy” basically means that he speaks with his constituents and actually does stuff. The highlights of his tenure include transferring welfare payments to electronic gift cards to ensure that corrupt officials do not take a share, introducing an online tax payment system to ensure that corrupt officials do not take a share, and moving forward with the rapid transit system plans that corrupt officials previously neglected.

As one can probably tell, corrupt officials are a bit of a problem in Indonesia. Jokowi is not one of them. He now looks set to win a landslide victory should he run in next year’s presidential election. Let’s hope he does.

Henrique Capriles

While Venezuelan opposition leader Henrique Capriles lost (?) last April’s presidential elections to Chavista buffoon Nicolas Maduro, his loud and persistent campaign against elections he calls fraudulent and a president he calls incompetent is ongoing. Yesterday he met with the pope, and his shit-disturbing crusade to bring attention to gross mis-governance in Venezuela has taken him around the world.

He has been a badass governor of Venezuela’s Miranda state since 2008, and favors courting investors and businesses while maintaining social programs. At a time when Nicolas Maduro is becoming more and more incoherent and dangerous (he recently attempted a power grab) Venezuela sorely needs a politician like Capriles. Keep on keepin’ on, Flaco!

Haïdara Aïchata Cissé

Haïdara Aïchata Cissé, or “Chato,” as she’s affectionately known, was the sole female presidential candidate in the Malian elections this past July. During her campaign, she traveled through Bamako in a caravan to interact with her supporters. She’s a fighter who routinely stands up for women, children, workers, and Mali’s rural population. Chato’s campaign was well-received by voters and fellow candidates, and perhaps it will galvanize more Malian women to get into politics. Either way, it was a win.

Elizabeth Warren

image: AP

Speaking of badass bitches, Senator Elizabeth Warren is one. She is tireless in her quest for justice, whether scaring the shit out of Tim Geithner over misappropriated bailout funds in the wake of the financial crisis or sounding the alarm on how US student loan programs turn a profit for the government at the expense of students.

She’s a former Harvard Law School prof specializing in bankruptcy law, so she knows her shit, and she is capable of being pretty much the scariest person ever when she thinks an injustice has been committed. Republicans hate her so much that they blocked her nomination to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Were they afraid that she’d actually, um, protect consumers?

Warren for president!!

Jose Mujica

Gosh-darn-it if I don’t love this man! Mujica is the President of Uruguay. He earned the title of “world’s poorest president” by donating 90% of his earnings to charity. He legalized pot. Mujica is a former guerrilla who was imprisoned for almost two decades during Uruguay’s turbulent string of coups and dictatorships. He uses his position to denounce materialism and excess, and angered Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner with his comment that “la vieja es peor que el tuerto” (roughly translated: the old lady is worse than the cross-eyed guy. Refers to Kirchner’s late husband Nestor Kirchner who previously ruled Argentina and who suffered from strabismus, an eye condition.)

At least he’s sincere…

And now let me take a moment to remind everyone that Rob Ford is not the monster some are making him out to be. He did lie about his drug use and he did commit crimes, but he is just a messy dude with substance abuse issues who happened to get elected. Some Torontonians are embarrassed by the international attention this story is getting, but I would argue that no one is giving it more obsessive attention than Torontonians themselves. (See: every edition of the Star ever, Toronto Life‘s article on who would play Rob Ford et al in a movie.)

Perhaps if Ford had been given a chance to do his job, this would not  be happening right now. He did some good things…remember? Probably not, because no one noticed amid the noise about his eating habits. Nothing excuses using crack (not even the old drunken stupor excuse), but nothing excuses bullying either. So let’s follow the above politicians’ shining examples and get back to work.


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