Monday, May 23, 2016

The NDP Must Stop Victimizing Women if They Hope to be Taken Seriously Again

In early December 2012, the Toronto Star reported:  Near-brawl erupts in Commons between Tory Peter Van Loan and NDP’s Nathan Cullen 

Apparently Van Loan was upset with the NDP's delaying tactics on getting the Conservative budget measures passed, and crossed the floor to the NDP caucus, pointing his finger and shouting obscenities.

In typical fashion, Thomas Mulcair began shouting obscenities back, and things could have gotten out of control, had not members of both parties stepped in to defuse the situation.  Then Speaker, Andrew Scheer, did nothing.

According to Van Loan, members of his party only left their seats, fearing for his safety; and according to Nathan Cullen, his only concern was for the women folk

Had a bench clearing brawl erupted, we can assume that only those wanting to engage would jump the boards and everyone else would scatter.  He should not have dragged gender into this.  What Van Loan and Mulcair did was wrong.  They created an unsafe and uncomfortable working environment for everyone.

Last week we witnessed a similar situation in what has been dubbed Elbowgate.

This time the obstructionism was more evident as several NDP members tried to delay the vote on Assisted Dying legislation, by preventing Conservative Whip Gord Brown from making his way to the Speaker.  Given that the clock was running out, the Prime Minister left his seat to move things along.

He was angry.  He cursed.  He was wrong.

During this brief encounter, NDP MP Ruth Ellen Brousseau, who had moved up behind him, got bumped.  She stepped back to her bench, laughing and then made a gesture like she had been injured.  

However, the issue here is not whether she was indeed hurt, or to what degree.  It's not even about whether or not she took a dive, as many believe she did.

It is about what we know did NOT happen.

She was NOT sexually assaulted.  She was NOT molested.  And she was NOT the victim of intentional violence.  She pushed against Prime Minister Trudeau.  He did not seek her out.

But that didn't stop the Opposition members from turning this into a three ring circus, making it all about violence against women and putting the lives of female MPs in grave danger.  Women must feel safe when they go to work, they insisted.

When did women become so fragile that we needed this kind of protection? When things like this occur in the workplace, they are disconcerting to everyone.  Believe it or not, we've heard the "f" word before and many of us like contact sports, including boxing.

Our female Members of Parliament come from varied backgrounds.  They are doctors, lawyers, teachers, scientists, business people et al.  Many rose to the tops of their professions and no doubt took an elbow or two in the course of their careers.  Singling them out as frail individuals is misogynistic.  Feminism run amok.

As feminist blogger Rachel Edwards says:
"While feminists say that feminism is about equality, actions speak louder than words. These actions suggest an uncomfortable truth. Feminism is not the assumption that we are equal, but the assumption that women are weak... "
Had the NDP stuck to the narrative that Justin Trudeau should not have lost his temper and should not have left his seat to physically move Brown through the NDP wall, they would have come out on top.  But by making it about violence against women, they lost all credibility and the public turned on them.

Not just Liberal supporters, but all women who know what sexual assault and violence against them really is.  Also many men who are tired of always being painted as "perverts, bullies and misogynists"

Unfortunately, most of the anger was directed at Brousseau, while it should have gone to those who victimized her for political gain.

I know I also found myself upset with the MP, especially after viewing the video, but have since realized that she only played a small role in this farce. What I also noticed from the video, was how easy it would have been for Brown to go around, instead of continuing to try to go through.  Sure looked liked a set up.

I also discovered from following social media, that many of the people decrying the bullying of Brousseau, are the same ones who bullied Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, just a week ago; so clearly this was not about protecting women.

NDP MP and self proclaimed feminist Niki Ashton, epitomizes what is wrong with feminism today.  She led the charge against Sophie Trudeau when she asked for help in performing her duties, by suggesting that no one asked her to do anything.

Something women have heard for decades,  if not centuries.  "No one asked you to have those children".  "No one asked you to join a male dominated profession".  "You brought this on yourself".  

In November, Ashton had criticized the prime minister's wife for taking her son Hadrian along on an official visit, despite the fact that he was still breast feeding.

Feminists need to step back and ask themselves what they are hoping to accomplish and pseudo-feminists need to stop assuming that they know. Only then will we be taken seriously.

What Was This Really About?

I was quite taken aback by several well known Canadian journalists and pundits, who shared stories on Twitter from international news outlets about the incident.  They appeared giddy over the fact that this might tarnish Justin Trudeau's reputation on the international stage.  How is this a good thing?

Do they detest him that much that they fail to see that it would also be our country's image that would suffer?

I doubt it will have much of an impact, but it does shed a light on the true nature of all the uproar.

So instead of #PrayForSophie #Nannygate or #elbowgate let's just use one to cover everything.


Friday, May 13, 2016

Sophie Trudeau is no Betty Boop But Opposition Fast Becoming Other Cartoon Characters

In 2013, John Avarosis wrote a piece: Why do Republicans so hate Michelle Obama 

In it he discusses the obsession that American conservatives have with the First Lady, or what has been referred to as 'Michelle Derangement Syndrome'; believing that they would prefer a Betty Boop, to an accomplished and articulate woman.

However, as Avarosis points out, they are simply playing to the "fringe masses" that now control the Republicans.

We witness the same thing with Canada's Conservative Party.  They may not believe all of the nonsense they spew, but it riles up their fringe mass, who take to social media with some of the most vile attacks on anything Liberal.

In Parliament, the CPC do not act like the Opposition, but more like obstructionists, attacking everything Prime Minister Trudeau says or does, just for the sake of attacking it.  Red meat for their base.

So it was no surprise when this week they extended their assaults to his mother and then his wife.  Whoop, whoop!  

What was a surprise, was that the NDP joined the fray.  MP Niki Ashton boasted of dissing Mrs. Trudeau  on her Facebook page, prompting this response:

Her childish behaviour was in response to our Prime Minister wanting his wife to have a small staff to help her perform her duties.  Nothing new.  Mila Mulroney had a suite of four staffed offices and Laureen Harper, an entourage of tax payer funded employees.

They should have a staff and frankly I'm surprised that this was never mandated.

Ashton quipped that nobody asked Sophie Trudeau to get involved, but Canadians certainly expect her to.  When she travels with her husband, she plays an important role, just as others before her.

Laureen Harper helped to soften our image, in contrast to her robotic and often bullying, husband.  Mila Mulroney was a perfect hostess, and while she never really championed* important causes, she was beautiful and gracious, and made us proud.

Canadians could not have asked for a better symbol of Canada and Canadian values than Sophie Gregoire Trudeau.  She is not only beautiful, stylish and gracious, but she is a true humanitarian.

Her work on mental health issues and empowering women, has won her awards, so her potential contributions are enormous.  Let's give her an office and a staff and the respect she deserves.

Like Michelle Obama, she is no Betty Boop, but I do see Ashton as Wile E Coyote, riding an Acme rocket trying to catch her.  This will not end well for the NDP. 

*Advocate for Cystic Fibrosis