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Oh ye without sin, only you may run for office

Oh ye without sin, only you may run for public office. For all the rest of humanity, give it up now, while there is still time.
Brian Zinchuk

Oh ye without sin, only you may run for public office.

For all the rest of humanity, give it up now, while there is still time.

I write this as I watch in horror as a good man’s name and reputation go down in flames over an ill-considered Facebook posting about a hockey game.

That’s right, a bleepin’ hockey game.

It’s been several years since I’ve had the privilege of interacting with Ray Fox, but from 2003 to 2008, when I covered North Battleford city hall as well as the courts and cops beat, he and I crossed paths several times a week.

Sometimes it could be several times a day. We could find ourselves sitting in docket court in the morning and city council chambers in the evening.

And from that experience, I can say Ray Fox is one of the best people I have ever met.

Ray was the first person of Aboriginal descent to win a seat on North Battleford’s city council. As of now, he is in his fourth term.

Much of his first term, when I was there, was spent working on two projects that were near and dear to the late Mayor Julian Sadlowski’s heart: a “Concern for Youth” committee, tasked with doing something, anything, to keep kids from finding their way into trouble, and a second committee tasked with building relations with the local First Nation community.

Ray’s job at the time was working with the justice portfolio with the local tribal council. He worked tirelessly on this front, often with youth.

In my five years covering those beats – city hall and courts and cops, I don’t know if anyone else had worked as hard as Ray Fox in trying to better the lot for Aboriginal kids. I still remember clearly sitting in his office, talking about the phenomena of couch-surfing.

That’s when kids might stay at a relative’s place for a few days, then a Oh ye without sin, only you may run for office friend’s, then on the reserve, then back in town, and really not have any secure, safe place to call home. It was heartbreaking to realize how prevalent this was in the Battlefords at the time. How could we expect these kids to do well in school if they didn’t even know where they were going to sleep that night? And did they go to school with a proper breakfast in the first place?

In 2010 he received an honourable mention in the Premier’s Award for Excellence in Public Service for his work with the Battlefords Domestic Violence Treatment Options Court.

Ray was the nominated federal Liberal candidate for Battlefords-Lloydminster for the upcoming fall election. He was dropped like a hot potato on June 19 because of a dumb move.

Apparently he posted an Internet meme with regards to the Tampa Bay Lightning’s loss of the Stanley Cup. The image showed a white woman and man in a family pose. In the woman’s arms was a black baby. The woman had what looked like a Photoshopped black eye. Ray’s comment was,

“My sincere condolences to all the Tampa Bay fans… I think I might know how you’re feeling…”

I take that as a reference to a fi gurative black eye Tampa Bay got in the playoffs. But apparently the world thinks Ray Fox is insensitive to domestic violence.

I can’t imagine any sports fan making any off colour remark about something as insignificant as the Stanley Cup. Oh wait, I erred. I think nearly every single sports fan makes some sort of objectionable comment at some point during the playing of, or in reference to, the big game.

The difference here is that Ray is running for public office.

Now, a Liberal’s chance of getting elected in Battlefords- Lloydminster is likely a lot less than the Maple Leafs winning the Stanley Cup. But that doesn’t matter.

The collective media, heaped on by social media, has absolutely zero tolerance today for any sort of misstep, taken in or out of context. Any possible weakness and you’re dumped on the curb like yesterday’s garbage.

Across this nation, the Conservatives, Liberals and NDP have all dropped candidates over the past year for similar gaffes. All the public, the parties and their leaders will accept now is automatons with no personal views, confl icting ideas or thoughts that could in any way be construed as not politically correct. Just ask any politician what he or she thinks of abortion, and you will get where I am going on this.

Can you imagine if we did this in the early years of our nation? Conservative Prime Minister John A. MacDonald was a lush! Liberal Prime Minister Mackenzie King talked
to his dead mother and held séances!

There are not a lot of people I have run into in politics that I would say “This is a good man.” I would say that about Ray Fox.
It’s highly ironic that a man who has spent his life in community service, who has broken ground for Aboriginals in public offi ce, and whose compassion is greater than probably anyone I know, is now seen as a liability.

If he’s a liability, then who the hell is worthy?

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