The life of a Member of Parliament can be an interesting one. There are lots of things about the job that are different, new & unique. You get to meet all kinds of people, travel all over the country and further afield and more importantly, get to have a hand in the governing of the country. You get to have a say as one of the few people who get to be in that chamber, getting to represent your neighbours and communities.
But the job comes with lots of trade offs that make it something that many simply would not want to do. Doing the job right means extremely long hours, few days off, living in your car, on a plane or on your phone and you need to be accessible to your constituents. The strains of the work can be extremely hard on families and loved ones, can lead to divorces & many personal and health problems.
Because of that dynamic I have always had a great respect for those who take on the job & frankly most who I have met in those jobs have given the job that same respect. Having MPs give their roles that respect is important because of the importance of their work & what they represent. They are not just chosen to represent us, but they are expected to lead by example and as a result, that comes with extra responsibilities. That’s why a story that broke on Friday and has further development has raised many red flags while also leaving many people scratching their heads:
You can be forgiven if you have never heard of now-former Liberal MP Marwan Tabbara, because he wasn’t exactly a household name before this. He has been the relatively anonymous second-term MP for Kitchener South – Hespeler and honestly hasn’t done much of note before this. Honestly the most noteworthy thing he seems to have done was get re-elected after getting swept in with the Trudeau wave in 2015.
His notoriety, or lack thereof, takes on a different light in the context of this story and raises lots of serious questions. First off is the fact that Tabbara’s arrest came on April 9th, almost two months ago, yet that Friday was the first we heard of it was extremely alarming. The fact that Tabbara was arrested was one thing, but normally when that happens most respectable MPs will take certain steps. He did none of that at the time or in any time close to when he had. It wasn’t until the story broke in the media that he finally did that respectable thing, which makes it look like an even less respectable act after a two-month delay.
But that leads us to the second problem this story raises, one that raises even more, serious questions. When I saw this story break, I was curious what exactly Tabbara was up to since he was arrested. What happened in that two-month period between his arrest & the news of it coming out? Just take a look at this selection of his Tweets from that period, and it’s illuminating & disturbing to me:
I picked those three Tweets because they are a good example of just how “business as usual” he was acting, despite the charges that loomed on the horizon. He was sharing all kinds of government memes and sharables, just like the anonymous backbencher that he is. He was giving kudos to local businesses who were helping in the fight against COVID-19 and taking a victory lap for new highway funding he brought to his riding. Those are all things that any MP facing criminal charges would not be doing because, well, they would not be talking. They would not be in the public eye, they would have taken a step back. Yes, their constituency office and staff would still be helping citizens as normal, but that would be the only “normal” thing going on with that MP. Except he didn’t do that, he just kept on as normal apparently hoping that either no one would ever find out or notice.
That’s wrong but gets even worse when you look at that third Tweet. In that third Tweet, Tabbara is waxing poetic about the government that he was a part of spending more on women’s shelters and sexual assault centres across the country during COVID-19. He was raising it to show that he gets that supporting women and children fleeing violence was important. And he Tweeted that while he was facing “two counts of assault, one count of break and enter and commit an indictable offence and one count of criminal harassment.” He shared that Tweet knowing full well the details of his alleged acts, details that are only now starting to come out. Here is what the National Post reported on Monday regarding them:
“Ontario Member of Parliament Marwan Tabbara allegedly spent so much time over three months watching a home in a nearby riding he made the occupant fear for her safety, according to a police document describing the serious criminal charges he is facing.
The watching started January 1 and ended April 9, the day Tabbara was arrested by police in Guelph, Ont., according to police allegations.
Tabbara is also charged with breaking and entering a home, which is the same address as the home he was allegedly watching, near Guelph’s downtown, about 90 kilometres west of Toronto. It is not the same address listed as his home.
After spending a night in jail, Tabbara was formally charged with the four criminal counts on April 10, and had a bail hearing overseen by a justice of the peace in London, Ont., about 120 kilometres southwest of Guelph.
He was released on a promise to pay $1,000 if he breached any condition of his release.”Source: https://nationalpost.com/news/liberal-mp-allegedly-watched-home-for-three-months-before-arrest-there-for-assault-break-and-enter-harassment
Think about that Tweet now everyone, with those details added to the context. This MP was out there on Twitter puffing out his chest about his government spending all this money on women’s shelters, while he was charged with crimes that would in many cases result in women and children seeking help from a shelter. That kind of situation is exactly why a respectable MP would have been upfront about what criminal charges they were facing when it happened, because this makes it all the worse.
The other part of these details that came out of this that struck me was the fact that this had been going on for more than three months. He doesn’t live in Guelph and spends a lot of his time seven hours away in Ottawa, yet for over three months he allegedly spent so much time “watching a home”, to the point where he made the occupant fear for her safety. When I think of an MPs schedule, how busy they usually are in their ridings and how little free time a respectable MP has in their lives, that detail of these allegations is mind-blowing to me. If he was doing that for over 100 days, that meant that many large parts of his job simply were not being done.
There is no way this guy was doing the job of an MP properly if he spent that much time doing that. Also, let’s not forget the point that he for the last month of that period he did it during the worst of the pandemic lockdowns. At a time when we were all being told to stay home, bunker in place and do our part to flatten the curve, the allegations state that Tabbara was doing that. He was committing alleged criminal acts and making people feel unsafe in their own homes, at a time when they could not leave them either. That’s a chilling thought & raises a lot of serious questions.
All of these details & how they mesh with what we expect of MPs are extremely disturbing to me, not just because it happened but because it happened and somehow the Liberals claim that they knew nothing. They claim they did not know anything for two months that one of their MPs was arrested, charged, and released with conditions, which just isn’t credible on it’s face. The idea that one of their MPs was involved in anything like this and they did not know for two months isn’t believable. Either they aren’t being honest about what they knew, or the Liberals have some much bigger caucus management issues than we previously knew.
The Liberals owe Canadians answers to what happened here because there’s no way that Tabbara should have been able to spend the last two months acting like nothing had happened. We expect MPs to be examples for the rest of us to follow, not the opposite. And when they fall short of those reasonable expectations, we expect their parties to hold them to account. That didn’t happen here & there were numerous failures in this case. Those failures require answers, if not for Canadians at least for the alleged victims in this case. After what they have faced, we should be expecting no less from our government. Tabbara may have disrespected the trust he was given by Canadians but if the Liberals do not answer for this too, that will be another disrespect added to it all.