Heckling, H1N1, sexism, politics, poor taste and an apology

by Aaron Wherry

Chris Selley considers Carolyn Bennett’s week.

There is, of course, a legitimate debate to be had over how, when and to whom Canada is rolling out the H1N1 vaccine. But it is not and will not be conducted in the House of Commons. If anyone in there actually thinks his party is favoured over any other by this incredibly unedifying sideshow — heckling and hooting and sexism allegations and body bags — he’s dreaming.




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Heckling, H1N1, sexism, politics, poor taste and an apology

  1. Selley's article makes the point that dishonest allegations of sexism diminish the person making them… Perhaps you should pass that message on to whoever wrote your headline.

    There was no sexism in the Bennett fiasco, there were just unfounded allegations of same. It's an important distinction.

    • Why are the Liberals and NDP running MALE ONLY slates in the by-elections ?? Its soooo sexist!! Only the Conservatives are gender balanced with 2 men and 2 wom…

      Oh wait. We're done with that now?

      Ahh. We're only supposed to bring up the topic of "sexism" when its the Conservatives doing something wrong and we can hit them for it!

      Sorry Media/Liberals. I didn't realize that's how the game is played.

      • Yeah, because the Liberals didn't run the biggest slate of women in the last general election or anything….

  2. The Liberals have made a terrible mistake in their approach here – the old classic liberal fear and shmear tactics from ' soldiers on every corner ' and the new classics ' body bags ' and ' people dying ' this stuff removes and integrity they had when it comes to accusing the CPC of their negative ADs – in point of fact makes ' not a leader ' and ' just visiting ' look downright tame – it smacks of desparation of which I have no doubt there is a lot of at this time in the LPT camp of this i am certain. When oppostions parties respond like this it rarely ever earns them anything let alone a vote! It would not surpise me me in the least if next EKOS like the proverbial old saw oops there goes another one point down and then down and if the LPT isn't careful the numbers will dip below 20 by xmas and then what? I wonder if they tie the NDP Peter will fall on his sword for Iggy – hmmmmm

    • Snore… these are not "old classic liberal fear and shmear" tactics… they are old classic "political fear and shmear tactics" that all parties stoop to. Quit cherry picking and post something substantive.

  3. "If anyone in there actually thinks his party is favoured over any other by this incredibly unedifying sideshow . . . he's dreaming."

    If Selley thinks that he's added anything with this comment, he's out to lunch.

  4. Chris Selley is probably the best blogger/writer in Canada these days. He's unbiased, sharp as a knife, and hilarious. Three cheers for Chris Selley!

    • Hear hear! I read Full Pundit on a daily basis. Selley consistently delivers the goods. I love his dry wit and "take no prisoners" approach to fellow pundits – Jeffrey Simpson must hate the guy.

  5. Note to Conservatives: Chris Selley's style is how you influence people who are not on your side. Study it.

    His point about the Speaker bears repeating. Miliken's answers to constituent complaints about him not doing his job have been unsatisfying. Basically, all he says is "I know it's terrible. The MP's really should do something about it."

    • It's not often that I completely agree with you, but this is one of those times.

      • Your approval comes as gentle rain upon the parched Earth that is my self-esteem.

  6. Carolyn Bennett seems like a very angry and frustrated person. That is partly why I mistook her for the Carolyn who stomped the Bush doll and who was thrown out of the Liberal Party for her antics. I was corrected by someone who pointed out that the doll-stomper was actually Carolyn Parrish.

    But Parrish may not be the only one who could profit from an anger-management course. Here's Spector on Bennett in his column of yesterday in the Globe:

    "An inveterate heckler herself, she claims now not to be playing politics, but it's been hard for some time not to see the look of contempt bordering on hatred that, no matter what the issue, invariably appears on her face when she rises in the Commons to ask a question of the mild-mannered Aglukkaq."

    She could make the blood run cold of any trick or treater darkening the door of her house tomorrow night. And her household flyer about "no vaccines and body bags for aboriginal Canadians" is miles beneath her calling as a medical doctor. This woman, I'm told actually ran for the leadership of the Liberal Party in 2006 when the party still held leadership conventions. Maybe doing away with leadership conventions has its advantages.

    • Since when is being "angry and frustrated" a sign of poor character or weakness? Why should her display of emotion invalidate her position? I always grow suspicious of someone's perspective when they preface their opinion with a commentary on their opponents emotional state. I often saw Fox news in the United States using phrases like "the angry left" when they tried to invalidate those protesting Bush's war in Iraq. Funny, now they are suspiciously absent in using the phrase "the angry right" when reporting on "tea party" protesters raging against Obama. It is pretty clear that you are following the same tact against Bennett. Before you start smearing her with questions as to her emotional stability, try actual reading up on one who is an arguably distinguished and accomplished individual. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carolyn_Bennett

    • Yes, Caroline Bennett was the 2nd contender (out of 11 running) to drop out of the Lib leadership race.

      She may be passionate Straittohell, but she comes off as a screamin' meemee.
      Peter Milliken may be very bright and know every aspect of the House and his job inside out.
      But he needs to exercise the rules given to him to uphold.

      • I agree that The Speaker needs to enforce the rules more to maintain order. I never said otherwise, did I? I fail to see the point of referencing her aborted run for leader of the Liberal party. She "comes off" as a screamin meemee? Does that mean I get to say that John Baird "comes off" as an obstructionist blowhard? Or that Stephen Harper doesn't care because he always replies to questions with a lack of emotion? My original point remains unchanged – limiting debate to an analysis of how people sound versus what they are saying represents a clear failure to elevate the political dialogue in our country on all of our parts.

  7. Parliament is putting lives of Canadians in jeopardy by trying to politicize this health crisis. That said, the Harper government's attitude about the H1N1 vaccination program seems to demonstrate their philosophy – here's some of your vaccine, what you do with it is up to you, we'll let you know when one of our MPs will be there for a photo op about our largesse. As the senior level of government in the context of an international pandemic, one would expect the Harper government to assist provinces and municipalities in planning for the rollout of the vaccine to ensure that sufficient quantities would be available for the highest risk groups. But their attitude is that their only responsibility is to provide the vaccine. This is now looking like one more example of the staggering inability of the Harper government to manage anything efficiently and properly while patting themselves on the back. As an example of what the Harper government could have done to assist in the rollout, there's a maximum wait time of 20 minutes in the city of Sault Ste. Marie and all of their vaccine allotment has been administered because they have a team of rocket scientist/brain surgeons who developed something as revolutionary as a booking list – people call in and are booked for a shot according to their risk factor.

  8. "Since when is anger and frustration a sign of poor character and weakness".

    The point is not anger and frustration per se, but anger at others having opposing views. It shows a distinct lack of depth, empathy and understanding. It also tends to underscore a certain level of narcissism or at least arrogance in the absolute belief in one's righteousness.

    • Carolyn Bennett's outburst of anger that fueled this discussion was primarily aimed at people who were shouting down her voicing concerns about H1N1 messaging related to pregnant women. So, let's review what you're saying.

      1) MP asks question and is shouted down.
      2) MP expresses anger about lack of respect for topic.
      3) Since the people who shouted her down were doing it in a cheerful way, they clearly can't be displaying narcissism or arogance.
      4) Clearly, she is angry, and therefore a narcissist and arrogant.

      Great logic.

      Don't worry, next week, you'll find evidence of her shouting down a Conservative MP from earlier this year, and use it to point out that since Liberals did it in the past, Conservatives can do it in the present, just like the cheque signing business.

      Whew… for a second, I was worried that we might actually start talking about the real issues.

  9. Let's examine the Liberal initiative and response, to the handling of the swine flu pandemic. First we have Carolyn Bennet, health critic for the Liberal party, using taxpayer money, to send pamphlets across Canada with the ominous message of body bags, which caused Grand Chief Ron Evans, to demand an apology from the Liberals, and to strongly condemn, and to lash out at Carolyn Bennet, who he said exploited aboriginal children for political gain, and that "our children were used as props in political theatre" . Then we have the same Carolyn Bennet behaving hysterically in question period, during discussion of the H1N1 crisis which must have caused great anxiety and tension, for some Canadians. The next day Carolyn Bennet, to give moral support, appears with Hedy Fry before the reporters, where Ms. Fry demands that she and her fellow MP's be made a priority to receive the H1N1 vaccine. There is nothing that the Liberals have said or done, to reassure Canadians that this crisis will pass and that good people in all levels of government (federal, provincial and municipal) and in the private sector, are doing their best, and are being very professional in their efforts – this is not the time or place for cheap political histrionics – when Canadians have a genuine concern on an important health issue.
    On Friday, on the CTV program Power Play, Liberal Warren Kinsella, of Adscam and doorknob fame , who is now relegated in Ignatieff's office, to be in charge of tricks, stunts and theatrics, wondered what the government would tell the single mother, who stood in line with her child for 6 hours . If the mother, is not near as dense as KInsella, I am sure the mother will understand, when it is explained to her, the problems and complexities of this H1N1 immunization program, which is by far the largest mass vaccination program in Canada' history. What I would ask Kinsella is, what would the Liberal response be to this young mother – would it be to have Carolyn Bennet Liberal health critic, give the mother one of her pamphlets with body bags, as she has done on an earlier occasion to people whom she knows have concerns.

    • 1. Ms. Bennett apologized immediately for the pamphlet fiasco. Grand Chief Ron Evans claiming that their children were used as props is hardly relevant; everyone in this country is a pawn of all parties when they start talking about our health. The best pawn-work that I have seen so far came out of the Conservative Cabinet Ministers during Question Period; they took any questions meant for them regarding H1N1, and answered by saying "We are working hard for Canadians alongside public health officials to resolve this crisis, the opposition do the public health officials a disservice by criticizing us". Now THAT'S good pawning. We could go all day and come up with better examples to out "gotcha" the other person, but I think my point has been made.
      2. Again with the emotional value-adding… she was "hysterical"? – Really, that is quite subjective, and also attempts to devalue her actual argument by trying to assert that her intense emotional state made it less valid. My goodness, if every person who displayed emotion while advocating for something were invalidated, all that we would have left to listen too and trust in politics would be Stephen Har – hey, waitasecond.

      • It's common for sexists to accuse women who argue with them of being hysterical. Then when you describe them as sexist, THEY get all hysterical.

    • 3. I'm not going to go into what Ms. Fry said, but it is quite pointless to note Ms. Bennett standing next to her unless you can prove that Ms. Bennett knew what Ms. Fry was going to say.

      4. People who protested the mishandling of post 9-11 Security in the US, and the iinitial government resonse after Katrina were accused of cheap political histrionics as well. "Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job!"

      5. You seem awful confident in what the average single mother would say. I'm willing to be that she would recognize the heroic efforts of public health staff, but might muse about the overall political workings at the top, considering how much more the Conservatives spent on promoting their Economic Action Plan than on H1N1 awareness.

      • Are you kidding me on point #5? Everyone I know has received H1N1 information in the mail, it's been on TV and the print media ad infinitum. I thought the information on the Economic Action Plan was too slow getting out. After some initial announcements there was a long silent period when the only news we had was what we read in the papers. I wrote two MPs, one where I live and the one where my business is located, asking what was going on and to send more information. I heard nothing. I wish the media would report on the stimulus money as carefully as the H1N1 information. All I get are political haymakers trying to score points both for and against the government. What are the facts? It's really tough to sort out the truth from all the political grandstanding.

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