The Blame Game


Blockheads playing the blame game
Remember The Name Game – that song from the Sixties that had those crazy lyrics: Shirley! Shirley, Shirley/ Bo-ber-ley, bo-na-na fanna/ Fo-fer-ley. fee fi mo-mer-ley, Shirley! Not the most intellectual lyrics of the era, I admit, but not forgotten and clearly suitable for local tastes. In Collingwood town hall, for example, they even sing their own version, The Blame Game:

Bloggers! Bloggers! Bloggers!
Bo-ba-loggers, bo-na-na fanna
Fo-fer-loggers fee fi mo-mer-loggers, Bloggers!

And so on. It’s part of the “not my fault” mindset that infuses The Block and the administration this term: blame everyone else for the mess you made yourself. Sort of like being in a five-year old’s heaven: it was broken when I found it. Not my fault! I wasn’t even in the room. She started it. I don’t know how it got in my pocket. Someone musta put it there. I didn’t do it! Wah, wah, wah!

It has been sadly amusing watching The Block and the administration fumble and bumble and stumble along their rocky ideological road, while eagerly pointing their fingers at everyone else as the source of their misfortunes. They never once take responsibility for their own decisions and actions. But instead of extricating them from the quagmire, all this flailing about and blaming others has only stuck them deeper in it.

Here are some of the people, groups and services The Block blames for the misfortunes they have done to themselves, the town, its staff and our reputation this term. You can see how many opportunities have created for themselves in this song:

  • The hospital board for the roadblocks this council placed in their path to redevelopment (the board is the current target of their ceaseless ire);
  • The hospital board for not lying down and letting themselves be run over by the Block’s choice of sites and for sticking to their message;
  • Developers for wanting to turn our airport into an industrial, job-creating powerhouse against council’s and the administration’s secret efforts to sell the property;
  • Developers for wanting to build something exciting and successful on our waterfront on their own land before a consultant told The Block what to think;
  • The Integrity Commissioner for actually investigating those many complaints about council’s lack of ethics (for which he was fired last year);
  • PowerStream for being a good corporate partner and trying to accommodate the administration’s increasingly strident and unreasonable demands;
  • PowerStream for creating good staff morale and operating efficiencies in the Collus operation that allowed them to pay the town a dividend in the past;
  • PowerStream for not being able to pay a dividend this year because the money all went to legal fees resulting from those incessant demands, and from loss of revenue when the shared services agreement was killed by the administration;
  • PowerStream for allowing the administration to kill the shared services agreement, thus creating huge expenses for taxpayers and the need to hire yet more people in town hall;
  • The town’s workers for unionizing (already two groups this year) because after 100 years of saying no to unions, they are today afraid for their jobs;
  • Wasaga Beach for wanting the hospital to be located in their community and having the gall to make the process easy, friendly, and to offer land and cash to boot;
  • Wasaga Beach for wanting a casino to be located there and actually having a positive attitude towards one;
  • Bloggers (me) for reporting on local issues, rather than accepting the pablum served up in local media;
  • Bloggers (me) for telling you what The Most Secretive Council Ever wants to keep hidden from the public;
  • Bloggers (me) for having my own my opinions, not those approved by the administration;
  • The public for exercising its democratic right to free speech and dissenting with The Block’s and administration’s ideological views especially about the hospital;
  • The public for thinking, not simply obeying or being gulled;
  • Collus-PowerStream IT staff for not succumbing to bullying to quit their jobs and work for the town after it killed the shared services agreement;
  • The OPP because police use telephones which the town pays for under the OPP contract. The phone service was previously handled by Collus IT and when the administration killed the shared services agreement, the town found itself with another unplanned expense ($50,000/year YOU have to pay for) to manage the service but no one with the expertise to do it;
  • The Ontario Clean Water Agency (OCWA) for wanting the same access to information and staff as the town gave the private corporation EPCOR in order to present their own bid to take over Collingwood’s water services;
  • Clearford Water Systems for wanting the same access to information and staff as the town gave the private corporation EPCOR in order to present their own bid to take over Collingwood’s water services;
  • The Ombudsman for investigating council’s shady procedures and its culture of secrecy;
  • The town’s closed-meeting investigator for investigating the many in-camera meetings this council loves to hold;
  • The Information and Privacy Commissioner for investigating this town’s culture of secrecy and refusal to turn over information to public requests;
  • The Ontario Energy Board for investigating the unethical and illegal practices behind the Block’s and the administrations dealing with Collus-PowerStream and the sale of our utility share;
  • Water utility staff for not buying into the town’s sales pitch about how great everything will be once the service is sold to EPCOR, a sole-sourced, for-profit private corporation;
  • Wastewater utility staff for not buying into the town’s sales pitch about how great everything will be once the service is sold to a for-profit private corporation then unionizing to protect their jobs once the utility is turned over to EPCOR;
  • The former board appointees on Collus-PowerStream for doing their job and not bending to increasing demands to do The Block’s bidding, so they had to be fired and replaced with obedient lackeys;
  • The former board appointees on the water utility board for doing their job, and not bending to increasing demands to do The Block’s bidding, so they had to be fired and replaced with obedient Block minions;
  • The airport board for asking that the Clearview Aviation Business Park be allowed access to the runway to move forward on its $500 million development but couldn’t be fired because two are appointed by other municipalities;
  • Clearview and Wasaga Beach for supporting the Clearview Aviation Business Park’s request without first asking Collingwood’s permission;
  • The Collingwood Connection for sometimes (okay, rarely) publishing news that doesn’t shine a slavishly favourable light on the administration and The Block (note: the Empty-Prize Bulletin isn’t on this list…);
  • David Finbow, volunteer, for presenting the hospital’s case for redevelopment calmly and professionally, without lashing out angrily in the face of the deputy-mayor’s aggressive, lawyerly and disrespectful cross examination at a public meeting;
  • Ed Houghton for doing such a good job as interim CAO and as CEO of Collus he had to be harassed into retiring;
  • Marcus Firman for doing such a good job as the COO of the town’s water utility he had to be harassed into leaving his job;
  • Paul Bonwick for being the mayor’s brother;
  • Steve Assaff for wanting to build nice things here;
  • The previous council for everything.

Blame, we are told in Psychology Today, is “ excellent defense mechanism. Whether you call it projection, denial, or displacement, blame helps you preserve your sense of self-esteem by avoiding awareness of your own flaws or failings.” Wow. Does that hit The Block’s nail on its psychological head! But wait, there’s more, the article tells us, each statement a perfect capsule of Blockhead behaviour:

  • We’re not very good at figuring out the causes of other people’s behavior, or even our own. The attributions we make, whether to luck or ability, can be distorted by our tendency to make illogical judgments. And we’re just as bad at making judgments involving the blameworthiness of actions in terms of intent vs. outcome.
  • It’s easier to blame someone else than to accept responsibility. There’s less effort involved in recognizing your contributions to a bad situation than in accepting the fact that you’re actually at fault, and changing so you don’t do it again.
  • People lie. As my colleague, Robert Feldman, discovered, “Everybody lies.” It’s pretty easy just to lie and blame someone else even though you know you’re at fault. You may figure that no one will know it was really you who spilled coffee all over the break room, so you just blame someone else who’s not there (and hope that person never finds out).

Wow again. That is just so uncannily accurate. You’d think the author was sitting in council chambers making notes during the meetings. Another author, writing on Psychology Today, identified the “drive shaft” of the blame game:

  • If something has gone wrong (or is not the way it should be), then someone other than myself must be identified and blamed for causing the situation.
  • …it is permissible (and only fitting) to treat this person/s in ways he/she deserves to be treated such as ignoring, name-calling, and in extreme cases, physical assault.
  • I must not accept any significant degree of responsibility for the situation inasmuch as to do so would be to admit that I am myself also diminished as a person, and therefore deserving of the same disapprobation and negative treatment.

Can you believe how close to the local bone that cuts? I hate to say I told you so, but this is EXACTLY as I described The Block and its frantic avoidance of any responsibility back in early 2015. They blame EVERYONE ELSE for the mess they make and never take responsibility for their own actions. Never. It’s been a pattern to their performance ever since they took office. Someone else’s fault. That’s their ideology. A five-year-old’s attitude. Donald Trump’s attitude. Wah, wah, wah!

Pretty soon they’ll run out of people to blame. They’re pointed their fingers at just about everyone but themselves in their first two years in office. My guess is that soon they’ll start pointing them at the only ones left they haven’t picked on: each other. Then the real fun will begin.

Collingwood deserves better.

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