By PATRICK HUNTER
Baroness Margaret Thatcher has been out of the limelight for a number of years now but her period of rule still, I suspect, conjures memories among Britons that are not necessarily complimentary. On Monday, the news came that she had died, resulting from a stroke. Thatcher was 87.
Baroness Thatcher is a historic figure. The first woman to be prime minister of Great Britain and Britain’s longest-serving prime minister, which speaks to people’s gluttony for punishment. In the same context, Ronald Reagan served two terms, and so did Mike Harris. There is a tendency for us to say that these are periods of our history that we should forget. I, on the other hand, hope we do not.
The view I have of Thatcher, as I do with Reagan and Harris, is of an almost ruthless protector of the free market system in which you sink or swim according to your own abilities and expect little in the way of support from the state. All three of the above handled legal strikes in much the same way. Ronald Reagan, for example, fired striking air traffic controllers.
The hard-line approach that Thatcher and Reagan held in their domestic spheres, reverberated throughout the world on the international scene. The sense that one got from their periods in office was of restoring, in the case of Britain, the empire of old when “Britain ruled the waves”, and in the U.S., the protector of the “free world”. As the details of their rule and their working relationship eke out, the greater the picture of their ruthlessness sharpens. The Thatcher drive to secure the Falklands/Malvinas was a case in point. The placement of U.S. missiles in Britain as a threat against the Soviet Union was another.
It was interesting to hear a BBC interview with former South African President, F. W. De Klerk praising Thatcher, suggesting that she was against the apartheid regime. She supported what Reagan and others called “constructive engagement”, a policy of rejecting economic sanctions against South Africa in favour of incentives which would allow the South African regime to inch towards eliminating apartheid. To many of us, this was clearly a White supremacist bias.
The “iron lady” motif which she adopted will no doubt be one of her most memorable achievements. Some will interpret that nickname with great affection, no doubt. Others will, I suspect, remember it and her with some grudging admiration given her performance in what was very much a man’s world up until then.
An update on the TCHC
In a recent column, I wondered aloud about what was going on at the Toronto Community Housing Corporation (TCHC). In that column I talked about the changes at the top, particularly in the executive staffing , not to mention what appeared to be strange rationale for the dismissal of six employees which the Toronto Star had brought to light.
People who know these things, have seen persons of colour, particularly African Canadians, being “released” from their high level jobs and replaced by Whites – mostly males – with increased powers.
While one expected that there would be some reorganization of the top level jobs at the social housing corporation following the City’s takeover a couple years ago, one also expects that efforts would be made to ensure that the principles of diversity and inclusion are followed, particularly as it is a government supported entity. The current makeup of the executive level, visually, does not reflect that sense of diversity.
Last week, the TCHC, through a head-hunter organization, advertised for a Chief Operating Officer (COO). The search, which is being handled by Odgers Berndtson, appears to be focussed to potential applicants who read the Globe and Mail as that is the principal means of advertising used by the firm. The COO listing does not appear in the Careers section of the TCHC website. In the jargon of the day: “What’s up with that?” The position appears to be the second in command to Eugene Jones, the President and CEO of the Corporation.
The TCHC has also announced, in its reorganization efforts, the replacement of one board committee, the Tenant and Community Services Committee, with two committees: The Resident Services Committee – focusing on community relations and resident engagement – and, the Building Standards and Neighbourhood Services Committee – which with deal with all other aspects of residency.