On politics, elections, and mind your manners

by Yule Heibel on January 22, 2006

I will vote for Denise Savoie tomorrow. I even gave the NDP permission, two days ago, to come and put a sign in front of my house (they put it up late this afternoon). But: I really dislike Jack Layton. During dinner prep this evening, the phone rang. I picked it up and heard a smarmy, tape-recorded voice on the other end that professed regret at not being able to talk to me directly, but boomed that he, the owner of said voice, was Jack Layton and that he had a message for me (receiver of phone spam). And then the message launched into a deluge of verbiage and hyperbolic promises, and I found myself actually shouting at the receiver.

Politics. Brings out the best in me…?

I’m not completely sure why I dislike Mr. Layton. He’s a cardboard character, and it doesn’t matter that it comes in so many interesting colours. His party has too much baggage dragging it down. I don’t like that Layton contributed to bringing about the fall of our current crummy minority Liberal Government, which in turn will in all likelihood allow that terrible and dangerous man Stephen Harper to take the seat of Prime Minister. And it seems that the NDP leadership (unlike local candidate Savoie) is seemingly unable to grasp salient social issues in any concrete and meaningful way. They’re not exactly golden on the environment, and, if his recent comments are anything to go by, their esteemed leader is absolutely benighted when it comes to feminism, too. To whit, I missed the debates between the candidates (I have no tv, remember?), but bloggers to the rescue: A couple of weeks ago, looking for local math links (and commentary on high school math textbooks), I came across Moebius Stripper at Tall Dark & Mysterious, who writes a very intelligent blog and is based in the Lower Mainland (that’s near Vancouver, whereas I’m on Vancouver Island, in Victoria). I initially thought TD&M was this instructor at a Victoria college, but reading around some more, I guess that’s not the case. Moebius really is mysterious….

Toward the end of December, Moebius posted a trenchant critique of what’s wrong with Layton’s “feminism,” which you can read here. She noted that one of the questions asked during the first English language debate between the candidates was, “what would you do about all the heckling in Parliament? How to restore civility to the House of Commons?” Layton answered thus:

Well I’ve told my caucus that we won’t shout out and disrupt Parliament. And I think there’s one other thing we should do and that’s have a lot more women in Parliament. I’m very happy that our party has the highest percentage of women candidates ever that any political party has ever presented in an election, 37%. And mark my words – the tone of that house would change if we had a lot more women there, and voting NDP will help make that happen. [More….]

Yup. He said that. Moebius then quoted Carolyn Ryan, a CBC journalist who live-blogged the debate:

Did Layton really just say his party would increase civility in the House of Commons by electing more women? That’s placing a big burden on the gender that produced Sheila Copps, Hedy Fry, and Deborah Grey. Are the female MPs supposed to shush their male counterparts when they get raucous? Should they hold tea parties in the foyer? Will they bring in a “bad-word jar,” with MPs having to pay a twonie every time they heckle? Puh-lease. Why not just promise to elect more polite people as MPs, or discipline the ones you’ve got now? [More….]

And if you want to read Moebius’s excellent punchline (as well as the links she provides), see her blog entry.

It occured to me that Tall Dark & Mysterious and Shelley Powers at BurningBird would find much common ground to explore… Moebius’s excellent Women in math screed, as well as her Women in math – the intersection of sexism with crappy pedagogy, are a joy (ok, a painful joy) to read for their lucid analysis of how sexism works against women in math (which resonates with Bb’s many analyses of how it works against women in technology). Just recently, Shelley had an entry titled Reductio that could serve as a commentary to Moebius’s crit of Layton’s notion of kinder, gentler wimminfolk.

Even if it feels like an uphill battle, it’s still heartening to see and hear and read women in the math and technology fields (who happen to be incredibly able writers to boot) provide such lucid analyses. There’s no easy fix, but as long as these voices are heard, all is not lost…

Meanwhile, Denise Savoie gets my vote and that of many others who might not otherwise vote NDP (but who want to block the Conservatives), and if she gets elected, we’ll hold her feet to the fire on her pro-environment campaign platform — and of course we’ll expect her to educate Mr. Layton. She might even try shouting at him.


maria January 23, 2006 at 2:19 am

I am sorry that I can’t contribute any intelligent comments to this post … I’ve been very out of touch with politics in Canada. To show you how out of it I am, I just discovered, through your post, that my former doctor form the early 1970s in Vancouver, Dr. Hedy Fry, has been in politics. I am nto surprised! She was great about women’s rights and women’s health issues way, way back, when she, too, was new to it all!

Yule Heibel January 23, 2006 at 11:02 am

Well, my commentary on Canadian politics isn’t particularly intelligent, either — the situation is so SNAFU’d that the joke from the post before probably sums things up pretty well. I know I don’t want Harper elected…

Did you check out Fry’s homepage (via TD&M)? In her riding, she claims, only 3% separate the Cons. & Libs. I don’t think that’s the case here — Savoie should win this seat.

Cool — she was your MD? (The doctor we first had when we came back here left medicine to run a hot yoga studio… Heh, I know how to pick ’em, eh?) I could use a doctor today: went to bed last night with a sore throat and this morning am in the early grip of what I can recognise as one of those nasty head colds-cum-sinus infections. I hate sinus infections…

Shelley January 23, 2006 at 11:12 pm

Unbelievable — we need more pink in government, let’s go out and grab us some women.

In the meantime, what countries have elected women presidents?

Yule Heibel January 24, 2006 at 12:57 am

Yeah, maybe even pink cardboard — that’ll keep the menfolk especially happy. Pfff….

Denise Savoie won, by a large margin, BTW. And Hedy Fry was reelected in Vancouver-Centre (running against Svend Robinson, NDP, actually a pretty interesting guy).

Women presidents/ leaders, Shelley? Oh, we’ll have to look to those so-called “third world” countries like Chile and Liberia…

Well, I’m off to bed to nurse my headcold/ sinusitis. It’s now so awful my entire face hurts, including the roots of the teeth in my upper jaw. Man, I hate when this happens (and that’s not a Billy Crystal line…)…

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