You’re probably surprised that I didn’t post yesterday, aren’t you? Honestly, I needed some time to process the Conservative party tape, read the transcript and come to some thoughtful conclusions. This is not a case where gut reactions are useful. Goodness knows I might say something I’D regret, which only creates more problems.
So what DO I think? Well, let me break it down into a few points:
1. The whole “well, it was 16 years ago” argument is ludicrous. I’ve read dozens upon dozens of comments that basically state that people were more homophobic/racist/sexist 16 years ago, and therefore, we should view these comments in that light. WTF? These comments WERE inappropriate 16 years ago, and they are inappropriate today. What’s the difference? Even more ridiculous is that Adam Radwanski of The Globe actually defends Lukiwski. The way I read the article, Radwanski basically states that we are all capable of change, so we should give Radwanski the benefit of the doubt.
Fine. I’m all for second chances. I’m not perfect, and neither are you. We’ve all said things that aren’t ‘PC’; if you say you haven’t, you’re lying. But the problem in this case is that Brad Wall and Tom Lukiwski are not just two guys who work for SaskTel and who can sit around a table after work, pound a few beers back and rant and rave. Wall and Lukiwski are PUBLIC figures holding PUBLIC offices, who serve the PUBLIC at large. They are to be representatives of their constituents. And when you’re in the public eye, your life becomes an open book, of sorts. You are expected to be respectful of the religious, sexual, ethnic and gender orientation of those you represent. Regardless of when the comments were made, they fact is, they were made. The fact is, the comments are offensive to the population represented by Wall and Lukiwski. And that is breaking a bond of trust between an MP/MLA and his/her constituents that is the foundation of representative democracy. You can disagree about raising taxes or where heath care dollars should go, but labelling the personal beliefs and values of your constituents in such derogatory terms is reprehensible. End of story.
2. The second thing that bothers me about this whole affair is the lack of attention being paid to the undertone of sexism running throughout the entire tape. I think the reason for this is mostly because the offending comments are made by unidentified speakers off-camera. Kudos to John Gormley, though, for mentioning that this part of the tape is being overlooked (and I NEVER give kudos to John Gormley!). The comments about Lynda Haverstock are absolutely appalling; yet, they are not surprising. I wrote a paper on women in Canadian politics for my POLS 205 class last year, and though I always knew politics was patriarchal in nature, I never realized to what extent it pervades politics and never had evidence of such heinous attacks on women. As much as you might dislike Sheila Copps or Deborah Grey, you have to hand it to them for putting up with all the bullsh*t they did, ’cause there was a hell of a lot of it.
Even though we as a society are becoming more cognizant of racist and homophobic comments, we are still relatively unable to hear sexism. And I would argue that on a daily basis, you hear more derogatory things about women than you hear racist or homophobic comments. Just think about the uproar over this tape. The uproar is all about the homophobic comments made by Lukiwski – and as well they should be, because his comments are some of the worst I’ve heard from the mouth of a politician – but there has been little to no coverage about calling Lynda Haverstock a ‘slut’ – among other things.
My mind always goes back to the Belinda Stronach/Peter Mackay debacle in the House of Commons a few years back. Mackay called her a dog. It was fodder in the papers for a day or two, but then blew over. Nobody says anything about it anymore. Lukiwski will be labelled a homophobe from here on in, but we don’t label Mackay as a sexist. Why not? Is there a double standard? Are some forms of discrimination worse than others? I find this very troubling.
Those are my thoughts – for now. What do I think should happen? I think Lukiwski should resign. PM Stephen Harper should take strong action. Otherwise, the Liberals can jump all over him and in the next election campaign use this as evidence that the Conservatives are Bible-thumping, racist, sexist homophobes. And in the time of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Lukiwski’s comments have no place.
As for Wall, I don’t think his comments should result in his resignation. His comments were directed at former Premier Roy Romanow. And, in my opinion, I truly don’t believe he was trying to make fun of Romanow’s Ukranian heritage. Were they stupid? Yes. But Wall only insulted one person as opposed to an entire segment of the population. I can’t believe I’m defending Brad Wall. But I am.
It’s sure as hell been an interesting week in Saskatchewan politics. The most interesting in ages; the provincial election campaign wasn’t even as good as this. And since I have the weekend off (WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO HOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!), I plan to post on the FSIN and David Ahenakew, as well as publish my letter to the Premier regarding Station 20 West.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to head to bed. I have some serious sleeping to catch up on!