I found myself in self-isolation boredom this week re-watching my favourite Fawlty Towers episodes, and aside from realizing how racist that show was at times – I cannot stop thinking about this exchange:
“Manuel: What is Nitwit?
Basil Fawlty: It doesn’t matter. Look, it doesn’t matter. Oh, I can spend the rest of my life having this conversation. Now, please, please, try to understand before one of us dies.”
This exchange sums up my feelings related to a certain lame-duck, tone-death, light-weight Conservative leader who has decided to make clamouring for in-person meetings of Parliament into his swan song.
Andrew Scheer is a nitwit.
He’s like one of those conservative Republican pastors in the US who insists on having in-person church services, and then is himself admitted to ICU.
Canada can figure out a sensible way to conduct parliamentary business mostly virtually — and Scheer standing in the way is wasting valuable time on a stunt.
Scheer is engaging in irresponsible, nonsensical behaviour. Westminster has figured out how to host Parliament virtually, and the UK has nearly double the number of MPs, and — shall we just say — more than a passing fancy for traditionalism. (And yes, they do translation in that multinational country, too.)
Nonetheless, Premier Jason Kenney was quick to point out that the British Parliament sat during the Blitz — as if a nighttime aerial bombardment was remotely comparable to a virus pandemic with asymptomatic spread.
For his part, Tory puerile pit bull, Pierre Poilievre, tweeted this week, “Gov says opening Parl would mean massive influx of staff. FALSE: -We don’t need political aids there. They can communicate w MPs by email/text.” I’m not sure conceding parliamentary business can be done by email/text helps his point, but no matter.
More to the point — I cannot imagine this grandstanding is good politics. Other than Conservative MPs and their staff cosplaying as latter-day Churchills, the average Canadian could not care less about this as an issue.
My mother, a Red Tory with more than a passing interest in politics, asked me this week if Scheer was kicking up a fuss to ensure he received his regular per diem expenses, because she could not fathom another reason why he would repeatedly relocate his family across the country during a pandemic. I do not believe that is the case, but it just goes to show how incomprehensible Scheer’s antics are to even engaged citizens (and how lethal his scandal having all his expenses paid for by others actually was).
I do not, for the life of me, understand why the Canadian Tories would seize on such a self-serving issue, one that has no actual impact on everyday people. My only conclusion is it is some perverse combination of taking their cues from the Republican approach in the States, plus a desire to get to engage in some cheap amateur dinner theatre under the auspices of the Westminster system. That, and getting to be on TV more equally to the PM.
I also firmly believe that this is yet more evidence political lifers are destroying our politics. Scheer has never had a real job (see, scandal about faking being an insurance broker).
Which leads me to the one Tory whose stock has risen during this crisis: Doug “I tells it like it is” Ford. Ford’s business-like, workmanlike, blunt approach is rightly winning kudos. He quickly jettisoned his policies that would look, well, bad in a pandemic, and is working to get along well with all levels of government.
It’s almost like he’s “running it like a business”: cooperative, focused on results, not grandstanding. I’ll even allow him the occasional photo opp picking up PPE.
Speaking of photo opps, my hometown MP, Scot Davidson, also a Tory business guy, is showing how a quiet, get-stuff-done approach can work: he’ll drop off congratulatory anniversary plaques at peoples’ homes, deliver food to the Food Bank, bring coffee to the fire department. It’s small things but productive things — and I am here for it.
Andrew Scheer, Pierre Poilievre and their ilk could learn something from their businessmen Tory brethren: cut the crap, and focus on results.
Photo Credit: CBC News
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