IS PARLIAMENT SICK?

Anyone who watches Question Period in the Commons knows what a rowdy unruly bunch our parliamentarians can be.

But the Commons descended to a new nadir earlier this week. NDP member Irene Mathyssen stood in the full glare of national television and accused 31 year-old Conservative James Moore of viewing “an image of a scantily clad woman” on his laptop computer in the House of Commons.

Mathyssen went on: “I feel very strongly that this is not only disrespectful of women but it is disrespectful of this House.” After trying to tie Moore’s actions to the anniversary of the Montreal Massacre, she went on to demand he apologize to ther House.

Moore, one of the youngest and most able members, stood up to say he was totally bewildered and he didn’t know what she was talking about. Soon the story was on every media outlet in the country including Moore’s constituency in British Columbia. To make it worse some of Moore’s family and friends were in the Gallery that day.

So what happened? It turns out that Moore had been showing another member a picture of his dog on his laptop and there was indeed a picture of a young woman in as bikini on the screen. Turns out it was Moore’s girl friend.

Outrage ensued and pressure mounted to have Irene Mathyssen apologize. Which she did, abjectly, late Friday afternoon.

It seems to me this tawdry incident illustrates how sick and poisononous the political atmosphere in Ottawa is with open season on people’s reputations and mob rule in the media.

Do you share my concern?

What, if anything, can be done about it?

16 Comments »

  1. 1
    Paul Costopoulos Says:

    I read somewhere, a few years ago, that since TV had entered the House of Commons, M.P.’s behaviour had taken a turn for the worse eveyone jostling for TV minutes and instant stardom. However the phenomenon is nothing new. Fist fights have been known to happen and name calling has always been present. Innuendos and mudslinging covered by parliamentary immunity have been with us since the dawn of responsible government. As with many other things constant media coverage and blowup make things look worse, but are they really? Or just more visible?
    As long as politics is left to ego maniacs, as long as we will believe that politics is for people with loose ethical standards and that all others will, in time, be destroyed by political life, we will have that. Of course we have examples of the truth of my last words. When will our saviours arise? My wife forbids me from even thinking about being that person. Any volunteers out there?

  2. 2
    Chimera Says:

    Mathyssen’s “apology” was not abject. It was pathetic and virtually non-existent. She apologized only for not speaking to James privately before screaming like a harpy in the protected atmosphere of the House.

    Truth is, she was peeping over his shoulder, snooping at personal correspondence and trying to eavesdrop on a private conversation. She is the one being disrespectful of women. She’s making them all look like The Church Lady on steroids, who can’t resist poking their noses in where they don’t belong.

    And as for the subject of MPs’ behavior in the House, people really should understand that Question Period is not meant to be decorous or productive. It’s recess for the opposition parties. And they act out accordingly. Believe it or not, before there were cameras allowed in the House, it was much worse than you see today.

  3. 3

    Paul:

    It seems to me the reason there are so few volunteers to run for political office is the hiding they get once they are elected. Constituents think they don’t do a good job and the media portrays them as crooks. Why would anyone bother. The fact of the matter is I believe most of our 308 federals mps are hard-working conscientious people.

  4. 4

    Chimera:

    However you slice it, the approval rating of politicians is right down there with journalists and ministers of the Gospel.

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    Chimera Says:

    Spam again, eh? You need some kind of filter on your comments section. That word verification thingie that Blogger uses works pretty well.

    IMO, ministers are well above politicians in the ratings, journalists less so, but still up there. I think the comparison you’re looking for is used car salesmen and snake oil vendors. 😆

    And you are probably right in that most of them are hard-working and fairly honest. At least, as much as they are allowed to be under our seriously flawed system of government. The crookedness that comes with public office is actually built in, in some cases.

    My own MP is a veteran of all three levels of the game, having never lost an election. She is also NDP. I hope she has the grace to disassociate herself from this vituperative virago, else she may find herself staring defeat in the face for the first time.

  8. 8
    Paul Costopoulos Says:

    Chimera, you forget feminine solidarity not to mention party discipline. But I guess Ms Chow will talk to Mr Layton and the guilty member may get leave to disassociate herself from the “virago” as youy say.

  9. 9

    Chimera:

    In terms of flawed systems, everything is relative. I would not trade ours for the American system, mired most of the time in gridlock. The voters elected a Democratic congress but nothing gets done because they don’t have 60 veto proof votes.

    You are quite right about a filter. But how do I go about installing one.

  10. 10

    Paul:

    You raise an interesting point about Ms. Chow. What has puzzled me is why she hasn’t had a higher profile in Ottawa. She was much more front and centre in Toronto.

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  14. 14
    Paul Costopoulos Says:

    In Toronto, Ms Chow was a prominent member of the municipal council. In Ottawa she is the wife of the party’s chief. That puts her in a delicate situation. After all she can not upstage her leader and husband can she?

  15. 15
    Barbara Says:

    Certainly MP Mathyssen was premature in her tirade against MP Moore. Live and learn; research before condemning someone is my advice to her.
    No one has commented on the inappropriateness of MP Moore’s viewing his private email/internet files while in the House, not to mention sharing it with a colleague. While very low on the spectrum of offenses, it is nonetheless less than professional on his part. Nudge, nudge, wink, wink, I guess.
    As for that remark “you forget feminine solidarity not to mention party discipline”, I would like to ask what else can women do in the face of an “old boys’ network” than build some form of solidarity? What’s good for the gander, after all, is good for the goose.

  16. 16
    Chimera Says:

    “No one has commented on the inappropriateness of MP Moore’s viewing his private email/internet files while in the House, not to mention sharing it with a colleague.”

    It may very well have been information relevant to a common interest that he was sharing with his colleague. Since no one bothered to ask him, but instead is jumping all over him, I’m inclined to side with him on what’s appropriate and what’s not. What was clearly inappropriate was Mathyssens’s inserting herself uninvited into a situation/conversation where she had no business being, and then braying about it before she knew all the facts.

    It’s my understanding that those laptops were given to the MPs specifically so they could carry their work around with them and share it more easily with their colleagues. I’m open to correction if I’m misunderstanding this. It’s a portable desk and a portable office. Who does not have pictures of his girlfriend/wife/dog on his desk in his office?

    Neil: As far as government systems go, I actually prefer the American system to ours. I don’t like that our “leaders” can make laws and decisions on our behalf without consulting us on them. I’d much rather have gridlock.

    Filters…ah…well, if you had a Blogger blog, it would be easy to point you in the right direction, since I’m pretty familiar with both versions of it. Unfortunately, I’m not very technical. More the trial-and-oops type, me. If you’ve got a friend or colleague who knows about these things, I’d suggest asking them to help you out, then watch how they do it. It usually turns out to be “insert tab A into slot B,” but it’s written in a different language…


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