Rex takes on Conservative MP Rob Anders, after his comments about Jack Layton.
Read a transcript of this Rex Murphy episode
A little while ago we saw Minister Vic Toews accusing opposition members of being little better than child pornographers if they voted against the government crime bill. That was low, and it was stupid.
Another occasion we heard Canada’s most famous MP Justin Trudeau shouting out across the Parliamentary aisle that Peter Kent was a piece of - excrement. Mr. Trudeau used a more basic term. It was street or locker room language being introduced where such language has no place ... the people’s House.
These are merely a couple of examples out of a trashcan-load of parliamentarians abusing the House, their MP status, abandoning good manners and going vulgar in public – and knowingly… because it gets headlines, puts them on the blogs and jollifies their hard-line followers.
But this week, the already degraded exchanges of political comment were utterly outraged by a piece of verbal slumming and extreme nastiness, remarkable even in an age of tasteless expression and slop-bucket partisan rhetoric.
Mr. Rob Anders, Conservative MP, whose reckless mouth is hardly news (he once wanted Nelson Mandela to be labeled a terrorist) went to truly dark territory – both in the viciousness of his insinuation, and the reckless brutality of the thought behind it: he actually accused the Leader of the Opposition Tom Mulcair – of hastening Jack Layton’s death …for Mulcair’s advantage.
Where do you start with such a statement? What vile winds were swirling in the otherwise empty head of the person who made it? Naturally people universally condemned Anders for the statement … and such also is the cycle these days that he then, you know, apologized for it.
And it’s all back to normal. Well, with a statement this crude and vile – I’m not at all sure it should be back to normal.
You don’t casually insinuate that Mr. Mulcair worked some sort of "gradual homicide" of his leader – that he hurried Layton’s death…and then mutter one of these pseudo-apologies. Mr. Rob Anders has walked past every line of decency, good sense, and fairness.
He really, without pressure from others or the PM, just under the prompting of his own scruples should think about – whether he, after such a fundamental outrage – should just resign.
Not at all incidentally – Olivia Chow took the finest and most dignified pass on this ugly moment: she chose not to amplify it, and from an infinitely higher standard of conduct – more or less let it pass. In other words left it all where it began with Mr. Anders.
Those words, And that kind of thought, coming from a member of Parliament – in an ideal world – would see him abject himself in permanent apology, leave his own caucus – he being unworthy of them – and self-eject himself from the Commons.
In an ideal world. But this is Parliament. And he is Rob Anders.
For The National, I’m Rex Murphy.