11 December 2013

Dagenais illustrates why women avoid politics

"If you can't stand the heat, etc." ... the usual justification when one politician objects to the boorish behaviour of another. And no doubt MP Charmaine Borg heard a lot of that when she objected to the recent attack on her by Senator Jean-Guy Dagenais.

The heat you are expected to stand ought to refer to passionate debate based on knowledge and reason. The letter Dagenais wrote to Ms. Borg and circulated widely ignored both. He claimed to be defending the Senate, but his letter contains not a single sentence justifying the institution. Instead he resorts to a personal attack on Ms. Borg, littered with remarks as juvenile as they are gratuitous.

In what other job are people expected to put up with this kind of trash? Any sensible person would be deterred from entering a profession that accepted it, yet in the macho world of politics it seems more than accepted, it seems almost required. Women, lacking in macho belligerence, are less inclined to subject themselves to it, and as a result are seriously underrepresented in legislatures and cabinets, to the loss of all of us.

We may pity Senator Dagenais in this instance. After all, Ms. Borg was elected with almost half the vote in her constituency while he, running in another Quebec riding, received a paltry 16 per cent, losing badly to one of Ms. Borg's fellow NDPers. Seeing a mere 23-year old elected to Parliament while he could succeed only by appointment—the free ride—must have been hard to take.

But sour grapes doesn't excuse his egregious behaviour. If his fellow Parliamentarians don't censure him, as would happen in any honourable profession, they will continue to suffer the disdain they have deserved. It's hard to respect a profession that doesn't respect itself.

No comments:

Post a Comment