It perhaps tells a lot about our time that the uproar caused by the Toronto Ward 18 councillor Adam Giambrone’s clumsy admission that he had an “inappropriate relationship with a young woman” has made very little of the fact he allegedly had sex on a couch in his City Hall office.
I’ve worked for or been closely involved in several Canadian and international corporations across several industrial sectors over the past 40 years or so, and can say with some authority that in any of those companies sex on one’s office couch would not have been tolerated. Notice that I didn’t say it never happened, for I assume such lapses in judgment likely are not limited to municipal officials. However, the public disclosure of such activity would certainly lead to the participants’ dismissal.
Giambrone is being both condemned and defended for what are being characterized as activities in his private life. Defenders say private-life activities have little or no bearing on officials’ public lives. But surely sex on a couch in one’s City Hall office crosses the boundary—assuming there is a boundary—between one’s private and public lives.
Evidently, Giambrone was unfaithful to his live-in girlfriend—though only they know the details and extent of his promise to her of sexual faithfulness. After all, they are not, as far as I can tell, in any form of marriage. So this could be excused/defended as strictly a private-life issue. However, his public statements and those of his office-couch partner bespeaks a level of deceitfulness not normally desired in any public official.
Then there is a question of competence and ability to perform under pressure—both highly valued traits in senior politicians and managers. His performance on television when he botched his attempt at abandoning his bid to become mayor of Toronto was pathetic in the extreme.
To begin with, he turned up at the podium and faced TV cameras with only one of the two sheets of his prepared statement. Then, unable to ad-lib the contents of the second page, he walked out without actually saying he was quitting the race. Finally, in a naked display cowardliness, he left it to a representative to finish reading the second page of his script.
It is inconceivable to me that such ineptness would not have been apparent in his years as a senior official in Toronto’s municipal government or as a former (2001-2006) president of the federal New Democratic Party. How low can the standards of performance in these organizations be?
Quite aside from his confessed infidelity, his performance since its public disclosure has been awkward and almost childlike. He has not the excuse of youth, inexperience or even lack of education, for he is a university grad and a 32-year-old professional politician.
And yet he could not ad-lib the words, “I’m withdrawing from the race to become mayor,” or something like that. Boggles the mind.
Truly a pathetic performance, which begs the questions: (a) why was he ever charged with chairing the TTC? (b) Is it any wonder that Torontonians are finding out that the TTC is mismanaged and dominated by undisciplined, overpaid unionized employees who are apparently out of control? and (c) When will Giambrone be announcing his resignation as Chair of the Toronto Transit Commission?
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© 2009 Russell G. Campbell
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