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The art of getting it done at the last minute

These days, Jon, it would appear as if nothing can get done until the very last possible minute. It's as if these 11th hour break-through deals and compromises demonstrate to those who are not in the obvious know that the parties involved are steadfast in their principles, uncompromising in their proposals, decidedly opposed to reaching any common ground with an opponent who is so far from reality in his position, that to do so would be insane – even criminal, and yet something had to be done in order to stave off the inevitable and complete collapse of the world as we know it, and by God, we couldn't let that happen now could we?

Take the US fiscal cliff crisis for instance. Everyone involved – be they Republican or Democrat – knew that a deal had to be reached lest the US economy revert to the Stone Age, and yet neither side wanted to be the one that blinked. So they waited until the proverbial 11th hour, then decided to kick the can down the road into late February. The VP looks like a hero for bringing together the two warring parties, and the economy of the world's most powerful country can continue to carry on in the – rather questionable – manner it has been.

Take the recent Budget vote for the City of Toronto as another example. Down to the wire, Mayor Lord Ford supports his budget chief in presenting a budget that calls for a property tax increase, contrary to his long-standing commitment to not raise taxes. As the budget goes to Council for debate, Councillor Mammoliti puts forth a motion to freeze property taxes – which Lord Ford promptly votes in support of, stabbing his Budget Chief in the back (“Et tu, Rob?”). This is the Mayor's way of playing obvious politics – his answer to his earlier impeachment over his vote on a donation to his football team. He can now say to his supporters, “I voted to freeze taxes. It's not my fault they went up.” And we all think, WTF?!?

And, on the eve of the Ontario elementary teachers launching a job action to highlight their opposition to Bill 115, the Education Minister, Laurel Broten, gets an injunction making any such job action illegal. Parents are left scrambling.

Then again we can look to the NHL hockey lockout as one of those exceptions that prove the rule. Most hockey fans – me included – figured that the lockout would get settled before the season was due to begin... that there would be a series of marathon bargaining sessions right down to the wire... that Sydney Crosby and Don Cherry would storm into the room at the last minute, punch out Gary Bettman and Donald Fehr respectively.... and the season would be on. But that didn't happen. Now hockey fans are expected to rejoice that the season will consist of only 48 games, and that the playoffs will go well past Labour Day... maybe Thanksgiving…and that the Leafs offered fans free hot chocolate to come watch them practise. Again we think, WTF?!?

Do these people really think we are that stupid? Do you guys in the media not see through all this gamesmanship? Then again maybe it's the drama that keeps the parties in the news. Maybe it's the drama that sells papers. I don't know, but I think I'm getting too cynical in my old age.

And by the way, sorry for getting this column in at the last minute.

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