I don’t know whether it’s the friendship with Belinda Stronach, but erstwhile tough guy Tie Domi is sure starting to act like a full-fledged member of the Liberal Party of Canada, which lately looks more like the League of Extraordinarily Touchy Gentlemen:
Tie Domi served notice yesterday on his son’s coach that he will seek damages for slandering and libelling the ex-Maple Leafs enforcer with accusations of rink rage.
Domi’s intentions, drafted by his lawyer Symon Zucker, were sent to Lucas Miller a day after the coach told reporters his version of a confrontation last Friday.
The Sun was contacted by people who claimed Domi became verbally abusive at Miller for not giving his son Max, 11, enough ice time during a playoff game as captain of the minor peewee AAA Toronto Marlboros.
The team lost to the Toronto Red Wings that night.
Witnesses differed dramatically in their recollections, claiming Domi swore at the coach and used threatening body language.
--Toronto Sun, today
With his donning of the Kleenex mantle, Domi joins a group of Liberal politicians who have similarly tried to paint themselves as victims. (I wonder: can a group of victims have an enforcer?) And by filing a libel notice, Domi’s not just a member, he’s also a plaintiff.
You know, it wasn’t so long ago that the Liberal Party of Canada was an awesome machine that won majorities, shed dollars like dander, and randomly sucked up politicians from other parties.
But having to arrange one’s own transportation, and the other indignities of being stripped of power, appear to have reduced the former leviathan to a sewing circle of tenderized egos and barely suppressed fury.
In just the last few months, the Liberals have issued shrill and sometimes coordinated demands for apologies in the following instances (even threatening lawsuits in some of them):
Belinda Stronach, because some Liberal MPs claim Peter McKay compared her to a dog.
Ralph Goodale, because charges were eventually laid against a civil servant over the income trust scandal, but not against him – which in his mind proved the former finance minister blameless. On the various political chat shows, Goodale was visibly angered for several weeks, regardless of the topic at hand.
Navdeep Bains, because during Question Period Stephen Harper started to read a news story revealing that one of Bains’ relatives may be a witness in the Air India inquiry. The Liberal caucus promptly abandoned its prepared questions and spent all its time in Question Period demanding an apology – for words that were never entered into the record, because the same Liberals shouted the PM down before he could even get to the story’s juicy bits.
Gerard Kennedy, Navdeep Bains and Omar Alghabra are suing the National Post over Jonathan Kay’s column in which an unnamed source alleged that Kennedy obtained the support of delegate blocs controlled by Bains and Alghabra, in exchange for a promise to oppose national security measures.
Michael Ignatieff, because Peter Van Loan described Ignatieff as a member “who said that torture is justified when dealing with terrorists.” Ignatieff’s demand that Van Loan withdraw his comments was met by Van Loan reading several of Ignatieff’s quotes into the record, including, “defeating terror requires violence” and. “It may also require coercion, secrecy, deception, even violation of rights.”
Stephane Dion, for Stephen Harper’s quip during Question Period that “I can understand that the leader of the Opposition and members of his party feel for Taliban prisoners. I just wish occasionally they’d show the same passion for Canadian soldiers.”
Mark “Nancy Drew” Holland is (according to National Newswatch) considering suing Sun Media columnist Ezra Levant, over Levant’s April 3rd column about Holland’s possession of dozens of confidential Conservative staff records.
I’m sure my five or so devoted readers will enlighten me as to any other examples I may have missed.
When an opposition party chooses to spend a good chunk of its limited media exposure demanding apologies and threatening lawsuits over typical Question Period rhetoric, offhand remarks, or the theories of columnists, it is sending a message to the public. The message is that the party in question regards the images and self-esteem of its officials as the most pressing public issue there is. More important than Afghanistan, terrorism, taxes, the economy, health care, crime, child care, national unity – you get the picture.
The likely root cause of this obsession with slights, apologies and lawsuits (oh my!) is that the federal Liberal party remains in a deep funk and an even deeper denial over the fact that they are in opposition, and it was that rube Stephen Harper who put them there. Until they get past this, they are unlikely to be serious contenders for power. As Paul Wells has often observed, the guy who auditions for the job of opposition leader usually gets it. Looking at the Liberal party under Stephane Dion, I can't help but be reminded of the newly-defeated Ontario PC party of 1985 proclaiming "We'll be right back." We weren't. For 10 years.
Yes, the Conservative party and its predecessors suffered their share of calumnies, and demanded their share of apologies. But I don’t recall the demands being as frequent or all-consuming as the ones that obsess the Liberals of today. More to the point, did Elinor Caplan ever apologize for calling CA supporters bigots and holocaust deniers? Hardly. Part of the discipline of achieving and maintaining power is not being distracted by personal issues that mean little to accessible voters.
Macleans’ Aaron Wherry beat me to this topic, but he cast his aspersions on both houses:
The question now, you might think, is whatever happened to parliamentary decorum. But you would be wrong. Because the real question is this: When did our MPs become such a bunch of weenies?
A couple weeks short of the five-year anniversary of Keith Martin’s seizing the ceremonial mace and declaring Canadian democracy to be dead, let’s not kid ourselves with another lament for lost civility. By comparison with, say, this, our elected representatives still seem nearly demure.
More worrisome is this culture of apology and besmirched honour that seems to be overtaking our nation’s more sensitive officials.
For the Liberals this seems something of a strategy - claim offense at every government insult and portray the Prime Minister as little more than a big bully in the process. But the sight of Stéphane Dion stomping out of the House like a six-year-old this week was surely a dispiriting one to behold. And Thursday’s proceedings brought the whole thing down to the level of farce.
Somehow, expressing shock and dismay at the actions of one’s opponent has become a default tactic. As soon as that infamous curse word had crossed Charlie Angus’ lips on Wednesday, a half dozen Conservative MPs were yelping at the Speaker and pointing in the New Democrat’s direction. But as your kindergarten teacher surely told you, no one appreciates a tattle-tale.
We could say that a higher level of mannerly discourse might eliminate the demand for apology. But we all know such enlightenment is unlikely. And one suspects we’d all secretly prefer politics remain the messy, snarky business that it is (lest CPAC become completely unwatchable).
So perhaps, in the meantime, our elected representatives might just - to put this delicately - suck it up. Yes, the bad men in bad suits can be very mean sometimes. But this ain’t a tennis match. Nor should it ever be so.
--Macleans.ca, March 23, 2007