Historians have doubts that Nero actually fiddled while Rome burned (over six July days in 64 A.D.), especially since that musical instrument was not invented until the 11th century. The expression, however, is also used to signify an ineffectual leader incapable of any helpful response in a time of crisis. Cue the present, and we have new Conservative Premier Jason Kenney metaphorically fiddling as Alberta burns during another season of raging forest fires.
I referenced this Shakespearean play in an earlier blog that was a response to the increasingly frenzied media reports about the destruction of Canadian democracy, the abandonment of the rule of law, and the need for the Prime Minister to resign at once – all because the Cabinet wished to pursue an entirely legal avenue in response to past misdeeds of SNC-Lavallin. But that was apparently just a warm-up for the over the top wailing and tearing of hair with respect to the “Norman Affair.”
Established in 1906 as the Ontario Municipal and Railway Board, the venerable OMB has been a prominent, often controversial, participant in municipal decision making for over a century – especially with respect to appeals on municipal land use planning and zoning decisions. Supporters of the Board claim that its public hearings are an important forum for citizen participation, and portray it as an OMBudsman or watchdog for the ordinary citizen. Critics object to an appointed body overturning or amending decisions made by elected councils, and claims that it too often sides with developers in such matters.
C. Richard Tindal, Ph.D is a retired Professor of Government. He taught for 30 years at St. Lawrence College, Kingston and was an occasional Visiting Professor at Queen's University. He has also written and consulted extensively about government.