Welcome back, dear readers, to State of Affairs: featuring your guest blogger of the day, Alexander James. Jim’s out of town for a while (he said something to the effect of “meeting a guy in Marrakesh about an ape that [he] saw for sale at Circus Circus” – I can’t vouch for any of that), so I’ll be taking over the blog until he gets back. Luckily, Jim and I have been friends a long time and we share a lot of the same sociopolitical views, so those of you expecting his regular brand of vitriol shouldn’t be disappointed. And if you are…well, read something else until Jim gets back with the monkey.
Anyway, if you haven’t read Jeff’s latest blog over at Keep Your Coins I Want Change, do it now. Like, right now. No, seriously, click the link. I’ll wait. This is a follow-up piece, so it’s important you have the context.
So now you’ve read Jeff’s burning missive on the current state of bumble-fuck that is the Canadian political landscape, and if you’re anything like me, you should find yourself experiencing a slow acidic burn in what Denis Leary liked to call the cockles of your heart. For the uninitiated, that sensation is a symptom of “rage”. But – there may be a schism between the source of my rage at this issue and the source of yours
You are probably pissed off at the fact that our Minister of Natural Resources saw fit to hire, as her personal assistant, a woman who clearly possesses the cognitive abilities of a trash can lid, and so am I. You’re also irritated by the fact that said woman (one Jasmine MacDonnell) lacked the wherewithal to keep her precious little manicured paws on the sensitive information entrusted to her care. Moreover, her ineptitude lead to this information being leaked to the notoriously gossip-hungry Canadian press, who (in a fit of what I can only imagine was temporary humanity) graciously offered to return the top-secret material to Ms. MacDonnell without publishing its content.
Alas, this paragon of political professionalism neglected to return to the scene of the idiocy to collect her misplaced sense of duty, and the information was released to the public at large. As you’ve read, Minister Lisa Raitt is now in no small measure of hot water thanks to the choice comments she saw fit to record in an instantly-recognizable audio format regarding her lack of faith in Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq, as well as Raitt’s own somewhat deviant sexual arousal concerning the subject of cancer. As a result of this cluster-fuck of incompetence, MacDonnell is now spending her days idly surfing monster.ca looking for someone equally grey-matter-deprived to secure her questionable services.
In the meantime the Canadian viewing public has had to deal with a remarkably poor “I’m sorry” performance courtesy of Minister Raitt (I’ve seen better acting on One Life To Live). Of course, you have to give her the benefit of the doubt: clearly she wasn’t on top of her game when delivering her official apology. You wouldn’t be either if you were still picking the last morsels of foot out of your teeth. At the end of the day, apologies like this ring, at least to me, wholly false, because the lying politician/anti-Semitic celebrity/drug-addled musician/whatever is never saying “I’m sorry for being a lying sack of shit/troglodytic bigot/spoiled rich junkie/whatever”; they’re actually saying “I’m sorry you saps caught me in the act and I’m particularly sorry I have to swallow my titanic pride and chew out a half-assed apology in front of the unwashed masses.” Look, I’m sorry you chose to live in the public eye with full knowledge that such a life requires you to take perhaps more responsibility for your casual conversation than the average bear. But you chose this life. Fame, fortune, whatever – you were after something (and don’t feed me that line about wanting to “change the world” either – you’re smarter than that, and so am I), and the cost is your personal privacy and by association your ability to mouth off whenever you want. Oh, and her apology was rich – “I meant no disrespect to cancer”. Okay, I know I’m a rhetoretican so I’m probably a little more picky about these things, but lady – I strongly doubt if you offended cancer with your statement (as your apology reads) – if anything, cancer was probably tickled pink that you called it sexy. No, you offended all the Canadian citizens across this great land of ours who are wasting away in hospitals while a nasty disease slowly but surely turns each of them into gigantic walking tumors. Ooh, I’m turned on already. Moron. The hypocrisy inherent in so-called “political correctness” always jacks up my blood pressure, as it probably does yours as well.
But here comes the schism. It’s a two-parter, so buckle your metaphysical seatbelt.
Part one: Was Minister Raitt out of line? Oh, absolutely. Was her former aide a blockhead? For sure. Does this “scandal” really rate that high on the political spectrum of fuckery we’ve come to expect over the last – well, ever? Not a damn chance. This really pisses me off about Canadian politics. Rarely, if ever, do we get our hands on a truly juicy piece of political gossip. The Americans have metric tons of it: everything from the JFK assassination, to Watergate, to Slick Willy getting his rocks off under the desk in the Oval Office, all the way to the entire George Bush Jr. administration. Gossip, gossip, everywhere, and not a drop of truth. But in Canada we don’t really have that kind of flashy “breaking news” style of political intrigue. Sure, Trudeau’s wife made it with Mick. And John Diefenbaker bumblefucked the Avro Arrow project. And then there are those nutty, nutty Quebecois. I’ll even throw in the sponsorship scandal for good measure. But generally speaking, most of our political “scandals” are kind of bland and pedestrian compared to rampant presidential sex, assassinations and the Patriot Act.
So why, why, why do we try so very hard to make a big deal out of every little misstep our politicians make? Don’t get me wrong, I think we ought to haul out the old stocks and stick both Pinky and the Brain in ’em for a few days down at Queen’s Park while children throw rotting fruit and dirty hippies jeer and blow bong hits in their faces. But really folks, as scandals go, this is not big news. One politician shit-talking another? You don’t say! And as for the “confidential documents” MacDonnell left at CTV…again, we’re not talking nuclear arming codes here. But the way the Canadian press covers these incidents you’d think it was the outrage of the century. I’m fully expecting to hear this issue referred to as “MacDonnellGate” or some such trite nonsense any day now. Give it a damn rest people.
Part two: not to put too fine a point on it, but WHAT THE HELL DID SHE ACTUALLY SAY? All I’ve gotten out of the press regarding the contents of that tape are some veiled references to “disparaging remarks” about another Minister, the only hard quote worth a fiddler’s damn being that now-quotable quote about cancer being “sexy” (and hats off to you Lisa Raitt for that remarkably surrealistic intonement…I don’t think even the late great George Carlin ever went there). I don’t know about you, but I reckon if we’re going to burn this woman at the stake for whatever it is she said, we better bloody well have a transcript of it publicly available. Last I checked, the press had a responsibility to give us the information we need to make informed decisions in this country. I know the Access to Information Act allows me to acquire the transcript myself (at least, as far as I know it does – correct me if I’m wrong, any lawyers out there) but frankly I shouldn’t need to do that. Why is the Canadian press so weak-willed? They have no problems publishing lame, uninspired political cartoons making fun of our so-called “leaders”…why not give us the real skinny? Forget comically over-sized noses and hackneyed jokes – the real comedy is in the metaphorical pudding. I want to know exactly what Lisa Raitt said about Leona Aglukkaq. In fact, I’d like to see them both placed in a UFC-style octagon ring with chain-link fences all around it where they can settle their differences like the cutthroat bloodsucking fiends they are (them and the rest of the politicians), but that’s not likely to happen, so I’d be satisfied with public shaming – which starts with the public knowing exactly what to shame them for.
At this point I can actually feel the pulse in my forehead, so in an effort to ensure I don’t burst a blood vessel all over my laptop screen, I’m going to shut this shit down right now. All I can do in response to this juvenile nonsense is paraphrase Ben Franklin: to the Canadian press…
“Give me a real scandal, or give me death. Preferably yours.”