Berthier-Maskinongé: the NDP’s Stalingrad?

by Colby Cosh

We are all having a good time chortling about the Ruth Ellen Brosseau Crisis (Day 7!), which has become the biggest “cute white girl goes missing” news story since Natalee Holloway. But I think political horserace-handicappers need to start considering, seriously, whether the New Democratic Party is starting to foul up their foul-up. Humour is the most powerful acid in politics when it comes to dissolving confidence and momentum; a politician can fight a lie, but he cannot fight a good joke.

The NDP has left us with the impression that it has all but kidnapped Brosseau and is putting her through some kind of sadistic round-the-clock training—perhaps in a basement lit by a single bare light bulb—in the hope of making her presentable to the cameras at some point. This really is getting kind of creepy, and the English-language phone interview with somebody who can only be described as “a person claiming to be Brosseau” didn’t help. Nor does the media’s collective failure to establish any meaningful proof of Brosseau’s prior existence. (There are no candid photographs extant of a campus pub manager? There’s nothing on Flickr?)

I suppose Brosseau’s captors/handlers can argue that she is a grown-up who signed nomination papers on the dotted line, and that it will not do for her to back out now. The problem they have is that the longer we have to wait for her to manifest her existence, the greater the NDP’s apparent investment in her success, and the higher the standard that will eventually be applied to her. The party brass did have the option, in the hours following the election, of distancing themselves politely from her, slapping her on the back, wishing her good luck, and letting her take her own chances. They could have said “We’re a party with a strong grassroots, and we don’t handpick elite candidates according to their polite capitalist credentials or the content of their tax returns.” Instead, at the very moment its professionalism should no longer have been in serious question, the party made the decision that the new Quebecois empire must be defended to the last ditch. Which seems to have left it playing out a bizarre fast-forward retelling of Shaw’s Pygmalion.




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Berthier-Maskinongé: the NDP’s Stalingrad?

  1. What I find most odd is the lack of pictures. Any politically active person, or socially active person has had some pictures taken of them, and located somewhere on the net. This person, who ran as an NDP candidate, doesn’t have a FaceBook profile? And there are *no* pictures from her time working in a pub? I’m sorry, I find that hard to believe. Can’t help but think there is something more going on here.

    • Is it not possible that she simply doesn’t share her Facebook profile with the whole world?

      Then again, maybe there is something else going on here. Maybe she’s an alien, or an al Qaeda sleeper agent!!!

      Has anyone seen her birth certificate?

      • I can imagine that a pretty barmaid would probably want to minimize the trail a potential stalker could follow, and eliminate such access.

        Quite frankly, such actions greatly increase my opinion of her. She’s obviously learnt a lesson that her peers are going to learn the hard way when they suddenly realize that their life’s history isn’t something you necessarily want the whole world to have access to.

      • Noob: Have you invented a whole narrative around this pretty, street-smart barmaid who knows how to mix a Caesar AND avoid stalkers? Is this something I’m (not) going to be watching on CBC this fall?

      • @Mubra, I’m anticipating her role will be played by Julia Roberts.

      • Noob: suggest Lindsay Lohan — she needs the work, and Julia is frankly too long in the tooth for this role.

  2. I wonder what is going on – I assumed NDP would hide her for a few days last week, coach her a little on what to say, on Thurs or Fri Brosseau would do interview and then msm and public make fun of her over weekend and we get on with our lives today.

    • It may take up to two weeks to turn a barmaid into a cross between Rosa Luxemburg and Margaret Thatcher.

      • I would like to try and be an MP for a month. How hard can it be? It really doesn’t seem all that difficult. Hard part would be constituency work – all those complaining ninnies coming to your office everyday. Like herding cats, I reckon.

        I forgot to mention earlier that I downloaded Chrome earlier because of your tweet and it is much better than firefox, I agree. Firefox been irking me for a few months but I was sticking with it and finally got motivated to change.

  3. This is a test –

  4. I think this says more about what happens to the media in the absence of Parliament than it does about the NDP. We’ve had over a week of stories about Ruth Ellen Brosseau and the Liberal collapse now, I really can’t wait to read stories with a bit of substance again.

    • I would caution you against being too certain in your judgment of what will appear “substantive” in retrospect. Sometimes what seems silly to us now turns out to have metaphorical or symbolic significance later.

      • There’s that. And I also want to see new batch of totty entering Parliament.

      • “Substance” in metaphor and symbol? Isn’t there a contradiction inherent in that?

        I’m sure that if/when the NDP fails, there’ll be tons in the media who will point to Brosseau and what happened in the first weeks like this all really matters. I’m confident I’ll attribute as much substance to it then as I do now.

        I’d really like to know what the government is going to act on and how. I’d really like to know how the opposition is going to manage to hold together. There’s nothing to do but wait, but I’m getting tired of reading the same stories over and over again in the mean time.

      • Please reconsider?

  5. I think the bigger danger is to members of the media who are still going on about this.

  6. In other news, hundreds of thousands of Canadians now know there’s a town called Maskinonge.

    I’m surprised the NDP aren’t trying to make hay out of this. Get a quick list of some of the notable restaurants, hotels, and tourist attractions in the region and have Ms. Brossseau go on a tour. She’d have a bigger media entourage than Harper had during the election. It’d be ten times the representation than Guy André ever gave the region, and she’d have accomplished it before the house even sat.

    This seems like a no-brainer.

    • The Journal de Montreal already did something similar, but in a mocking way. They printed a map of the region with all the attractions, and the article stated it was so that Brosseau can get familiar with her riding.

      • It’s even better when someone else does half the work for you! She should have grabbed an out-of-work NDP campaign manager to throw together a quick road-trip. With the Journal’s crib sheet it really only would have taken a day to organize, at the most.

        Opportunity lost, I suppose.

    • The Journal de Montreal already did something similar, but in a mocking way. They printed a map of the region with all the attractions, and the article stated it was so that Brosseau can get familiar with her riding.

  7. Her nickname will certainly remain “Vegas”, lol! There have been some pretty good cartoons on the new NDP MPs. The only joke I keep hearing is about the party they defeated.

    Q: “What has more seats than the Bloc Q?”

    A: “Your car”

    • I still prefer the pickup truck-and-PCs version from ’93.

  8. I do think it’s in poor taste to link this story to Nathalie Holloway and describe her case as “cute white girl goes missing.” Unlike the NDP candidate, she is probably dead, and her disappearance has caused her family untold heartache. I understand the effect you were going for, but I don’t think it was good judgement.

  9. The Byfield clan would be proud.

  10. Ah, we’re all just having a little fun with the scenario of placeholder candidates bewildered by their victorious ride of a wave of popular support that caught so many off guard. We will return to your regularly scheduled Harper=Eeeeevilllll programming shortly. Please stand by…

  11. I think ‘we have a strong grassroots’ would have been a tough sell when it came out that she’d never been to the riding. It certainly looks like they’re raising expectations, though.

  12. What I find most amazing is not so much her, but the idea of ‘placeholder candidates’. Shouldn’t the party have an obligation to know who the person is, and if they are comfortable with them representing the party? Just a thought.

    • Money. Parties get $2 per year for each vote. Number of place holders has increased I think.

    • You can’t win if you don’t buy a ticket. The party is distracted with the national campaign. So they pick good, earnest NDP faithful to run in ridings which are outliers for pick-up, just in case something like this election happens. Of course, most of the time it doesn’t, so how many resources does the party really want to devote to the outlier candidate beyond a basic vetting.. and sometimes not even that much.

      Sure, if all parties had unlimited resources and time, that’d be great. They don’t.

      • Saying ‘we don’t have the resources’ to properly vet someone doesn’t excuse allowing people who are not living in a riding, or even qualified, to run in a riding. It says a lot if they cannot find one person in the riding to run for their party (even as a placeholder). @noob_goldberg:disqus above is right, and it is a shame/sham.

        It appears to an outside observer (me), that the NDP would have signed up anyone, just to have someone in each riding. They could have any type of ideas, opinions, or qualifications – doesn’t matter. Regardless of how this girl performs in the future, I lose respect for them on this point.

  13. Shorter media: How dare this young woman beat a serious Conservative candidate! How dare she!

    • briguyhfx,
      Are you actually reading the stories?

      • Some of them. There were at one point valid concerns about her mid-campaign trip, lack of French fluency (which I would think would concern people in the riding more than the press gallery, but apparently not), and nomination papers (since quashed by EC). Those concerns are being shoved aside for more important media concerns, such as her youth, her singleness, her motherness, her bartenderness, and of course, her femaleness.

  14. Wow. What a remarkably craptastic comment section. You have to load a different page to get to the comments, making it harder to refer to the article itself. Also, ittakes 15 seconds of scrolling to get through 35 comments, and i can’t even thumb anyone down.

    Please tell me you’re “working out the bugs”. Please.

    • I’m with you MostlyCivil,
      I feel like I’ve gone through a Soviet style border crossing after my comment.

      • The only advance (and it’s a mixed blessing) is that the limitation to two levels of reply will end the endless exchanges between some pairs of commenters who both absolutely must get the last word.

      • @Still_A_Logician: I’ve always found those exchanges fascinating, like watching two ancient Greek sophists plying their trade. Now I know how Plato felt. :)

        • I register my agreement with Noob’s statement.

  15. The NDP should have let her talk to the media after she was elected. Instead they decided to prepare her. Okay, maybe a day or two of grooming, but beyond that, this is ridiculous. Everyone already knew she didn’t speak French well, so I don’t see what the problem is, unless they are trying to remake her personality. Having her father claim he was told by the NDP not to talk to the press only makes it seem worse. With her muzzled, why not at least do a photo-op to prove that she does in fact exist and bears some resemblance to the NDP picture of her. One of the other missing NDP candidates had someone else’s photo up on the NDP candidate’s website – so one can’t be sure the photo matches with the individual.

    • Let this be the final straw against prepared communications strategies in general. Dammit, I want my Parliament to be interesting again!

      • Not only prepared communications — the NDP has now put a new pic up on her NDP page. Less blond, less makeup, spiffed up to look more professional than the earlier photo. Now she looks just like one would expect for a young female MP. Personally, I didn’t see anything wrong with her earlier look and I don’t think we should expect all MPs to adopt the same “professional” look.

      • @usedtobecatherine: they should implement a rule: the only communications person qualified to ‘manage’ Ruth-Ellen is the one who predicted she’d get elected in the first place.

        I’m, quite frankly, tired of the sorts of PR people who think they can see all ends and effectively manage a person’s image. It’s debasing to civilization, as far as I’m concerned.

        • A proper communications person has only one goal: To keep the candidate from “Gallanting” his or herself with really, really stupid statements. Afte that, image is uncontrollable, and that has to be accepted up front.

  16. “cute white girl goes missing” is right. The media is all over it just because of that. And there have barely been any stories about the Lethbridge candidate that no one in the riding seems to have met. I guess “white middle-aged business man” is allowed to go missing, but if a young woman does it she’s an airhead.

    • @yahoo-IEM2X7JSO6Z7DT776XQ5T27NAQ:disqus

      Has he ever been to the riding?

      • I’m sure if anyone finds him they’ll ask him

  17. la pluie à Berthier-Maskinongé retombe principalement sur la plaine

  18. Test.

  19. My
    advice for Jack Layton (if he only asked) would be, to not forget the
    real reason people voted for him. It wasn’t for Western or Quebec
    issues. Quebec is done (for now) with separatist parties and their petty
    nationalist issues. The West is doing fine and has nothing to whine
    about (I’m from the West). What people really voted for was someone they
    could trust who would represent their issues, like jobs, health care
    and a compassionate government. These are the great strengths of the
    N.D.P. If Jack stays focused on these issues he and the N.D.P. will be
    successful. Well that’s my advice, maybe he’ll hear it next time he
    phones.

    http://politicsdisgust.blogspot.com

  20.  http://etobicoke-plumbers.blogspot.com/p/etobicoke-plumbing.html

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