As an unjustly-persecuted American politician once asked, “Where do I go to get my reputation back?”
Perhaps that would be making too much of the swiftly-evaporated voyeurism charge, levelled by rookie Ontario New Democrat MP Irene Mathyssen against BC Conservative MP James Moore (for which she has now apologized). But there are few allegations that can be made against a male politician that are more damaging than that he might enjoy pictures of attractive, nearly nude women.
What’s interesting here is that Mathyssen went beyond saying it was inappropriate to view such material on the floor of the House of Commons. She argued that such material is inappropriate anywhere:
“It reflects an attitude of objectifying women and we know that when women and other human beings are objectified and dehumanized, they become the object of violence and abuse.”
As it turned out, however, Mathyssen was more Mr. Magoo than Sherlock Holmes: Moore soon realized that the photo Mathyssen had spotted from several desks away was of Moore’s dog and former girlfriend, who was committing the secular sin of wearing a bikini more than 100 metres away from a gay pride parade (the girlfriend, not the dog).
So, if you’ll forgive me, I couldn’t help but think that Moore could have easily deflected the allegations by saying that he was looking for information about the gay, bi-sexual, lesbian and transgendered communities. Or that he was looking at photos from the 2007 London Pride festival. Mathyssen marched in the parade, and placed an ad in its directory (page 52).
Irene Mathyssen was a cabinet minister in the late-and-unlamented, one-term government of one Robert K. Rae, now carefully drafting the Liberal policy platform for the next general election, which must be just good enough to allow Stéphane Dion to finish second in a minority Parliament. Tonight, he must be grateful that at least he doesn’t have to deal with the likes of Irene Mathyssen anymore. She was Rae’s minister without portfolio for culture, tourism and recreation from October 1994 to June 1995.
Mathyssen’s sputtering outrage over girlie pictures is typical of the attitude that prevailed in the Rae government and still prevails among Old Democrats and Liberals. The Rae government published the notorious Words that Count Women In, a painfully silly “guide to eliminating gender bias in writing and speech” (no, really). Also on its watch, Ontarians witnessed the absurdity of a sex scandal in which a minister had to resign, even though there had been no actual sex performed.
Today, the Liberals were quick to demonstrate that they could still give as good as the Dippers, with MP Karen Redman recklessly piling onto Moore, based solely on Mathyssen’s assertions.
You’d think the Dion Liberals would be more careful these days, having lately been embarrassed that their game of Six Degrees of Schreiber is not turning out how they had hoped. Oh, I forgot: the capacity for embarrassment is unnecessary ballast, to be shed early on the way to becoming a successful Liberal politician.
And now even Mark “Nancy Drew” Holland is pleading that an inquiry, not the ethics committee, is the place to question Schreiber. Um, yeah, that’s what the government said. But in fairness to his suggestion, the benefit now would be that the committee would be free to turn its attention to simpler but more pertinent matters, such as requiring all male Conservative MPs to submit to lie detector tests to determine whether they watched all or part of the "Victoria’s Secret" fashion show on TV last night.