Musings from the ever-changing, ever-amazing and occasionally ever-baffling Fort McMurray, Alberta.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Mayoral 101 and Mentoring in Fort McMurray

Once, a long time ago, when I was much younger, I left my family home in the Prairies and moved to this wonderful city in eastern Canada. It was vibrant and exciting and very, very urban, and I adored it. I lived there for several years, and while I was technically an adult when I arrived I would say I "grew up" there. The city? Toronto. I left that city many years ago, but I continue to have great fondness for it and the residents. In recent years though I have watched the news out of Toronto with dismay. It wasn't the news about shootings or crime that troubled me, though. It was watching as their mayor Rob Ford seemed hell bent on slowly making a fool out of himself - and making the entire city look like fools in the process, too.

You might not know much about Rob Ford but a quick Google search should tell you all you need to know, really. From his latest idea to "ban" gun criminals from Toronto (preventing those with gun crime convictions from residing there, a "not in my backyard" solution if I've ever heard one, and directly in contravention of that little thing we like to call "rights") to his frequent run-ins with media (apparently even threatening some, although this is in dispute) things just seem to go from bad to worse with this mayor. And that's when I had a pretty brilliant idea. I think Ford needs a mentor. I think he needs someone who could show him how to lead a community with class, dignity, pride, and true leadership. I think maybe he needs a little Mayoral Boot Camp. I think, just maybe, be needs to come and spend a day or two with the mayor of the RMWB, Melissa Blake.

I don't know if these two mayors have met, but they seem polar opposites in leadership style. Melissa Blake is engaging, collaborative, open, and warm. Her relationship with the media is pretty stellar, and I think the respect runs two ways on that street. She is quite likely the most popular person in our community, surrounded by well wishers whenever you see her at a local event. She promotes our region with the kind of authentic pride we need, and has a sincere desire to see our community improve. But most of all I think she manages difficult situations with great dignity. Oh, she has a backbone of steel, and woe to those who doubt it (I've seen her pull people back into line when necessary, too), but she still manages to do it in a respectful way. She somehow manages to avoid all the snafus and pitfalls that dog Rob Ford.

And that's why I have been pondering this mayoral mentoring. I think Rob Ford needs help. Now, I know Mayor Melissa is a busy woman, and I know Mayor Rob might deny he needs this mentoring. I think though that this could be beneficial for everyone. Mayor Melissa would get to build a new relationship with Toronto, and Toronto might get a revitalized mayor who has seen how a truly great mayor functions. We could even avoid calling it "mentoring" and just call it a social visit if that would be easier for everyone. We could call it a "mayoral exchange", although on second thought I reject that because I'm not willing to let our mayor go for even one second. We were smart enough to elect her and I think that should mean we get to keep her, so while I'm not willing to exchange her I'm ok with the idea of Rob Ford coming here to learn a little. Maybe we can call it Mayoral 101.

Or maybe we should just forget the entire idea, because frankly I'm not sure I want to share our mayor with anyone. Maybe Toronto should just deal with their current one until they can elect a new one. Because our mayor, well, she belongs to us. Sorry, Toronto, I've rethought this whole idea, because once you saw our mayor you'd probably try to poach her from us and that ain't gonna happen. So I'm calling this whole thing off before you get any crazy ideas about stealing our mayor. Mayor Blake is ours, and while I think she could help your mayor I'm afraid the offer is now off the table. You are just going to have to muddle through on your own with your mayor - and keep your paws off ours.

My sincere thanks to
Mayor Melissa Blake 
for being the kind of mayor
that makes me proud :)

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