Having spent a decade on Parliament Hill, there are times when one might think that I’ve seen it all. Sure there are a lot of ugly things I’ve seen along with some amazing moments, yet some moments come along that still manage to surprise. Normally those moments are not good ones because sadly it’s far more common for those surprise to be bad ones rather than pleasant ones. Yesterday we had one of those moments, and it’s one that looks terrible on the Liberal government and the party that aided them in this ugly move:
Line up your “sunny ways” and alike comments because they are more than warranted here. The Liberals moved to shut down a study by the House of Commons Standing Committee on National Defence into allegations of sexual misconduct in the Canadian Forces. These allegations have rocked the Canadian Forces, as more and more cases and allegations have come out, pointing to a very clear problem the CF faces. This is a serious matter, especially for a government that has not shied away from wrapping itself in feminist language and credentials.
Yet instead of getting to the bottom of this serious problem, taking these allegations seriously and actively look into how our Parliamentarians could make the CF a better environment for the women who volunteer to serve our country, the Liberals went in the other direction. They chose to try to sweep this under the rug because it was clearing becoming embarrassing for them. Aided by the Bloc Quebecois (I’ll come back to that in a moment), they shut down this study, leaving these brave women who came forward hanging and ignored.
While I am appalled by what happened yesterday and surprised by it, I’m not shocked to see this government try to duck this. This has been with approach to most things, which is to duck and run rather and deal with the problem head on. It turns out, some polling came out just this morning released by Global News that spoke directly to this issue and it turns out I’m far from being alone in my thinking:
“75% of respondents said the government and military leaders are “all talk and no action” when it comes to dealing with sexual harassment in the Canadian Forces.” Seriously, that comes out the morning after the Liberals buried this study and showed that they are, in fact, “all talk and no action”. Geeze folks, I wonder how that 75% of people ever got that impression? Christ man, that’s terrible. It’s shameful stuff from the Liberals that people are noticing, and you’d think that maybe they might take that into consideration. But nope, they still acted that way and are apparently counting on people to either forget all of this or believe that no one can possibly beat them in an election. An election that they are craving for so badly.
And while the behaviour of the Liberal government here may not be shocking to some, the actions taken by the Bloc Quebecois here is the real ugly surprise to most. In this minority government, the Liberals couldn’t do this without an accomplice. For all their bleating about being progressive and all that, the Bloc jumped on board anyway and for the weakest of reasons. Bloc MP Xavier Barsalou-Duval was quoted by TVA News explaining the Bloc supported the Liberals here because of…. scheduling. Yep, he told TVA that there are only a few weeks remaining before the end of the parliamentary session and that must be used in order to produce a report with the information already collected by the committee. He went on to say that “if we don’t conclude the report by the end of June, it is very likely that there never will be. In my opinion, it would be lost, it would be a shame if we were to lose such an opportunity […] “.
Take a load of that “logic” there folks; if we don’t kill this study and help the government not get to the truth here, we’ll never be able to write this report and they’ll “lose the opportunity” to write a report that doesn’t get to the bottom of things. Christ, that’s terrible guys, absolutely terrible. As someone who spent most of his time on the Hill working in these committees, Barsalou-Duval’s logic is seriously lacking because if the committee wanted to keep going, they could AND still get that study done before June, but have it actually answer some serious questions. That’s because the majority rules in the committee and if they wanted to book extra meetings, sit long in those meetings or whatever it took to get the job done, they could, period!
Also, if you follow his own logic, Barsalou-Duval is basically saying that he wants to complete an incomplete and insufficient report into this matter, just to say they were able to complete it. That’s crazy and lazy. Doing a sh*t job just to be able to say it’s done is terrible, yet that’s his excuse for trying to burry a study into allegations of sexual assault. Again, this wasn’t a study into something mundane or of little interest. This was about sexual assault! And that’s how you treat it?
That is either mind-blowing, short sighted stupidity or (most likely) the Bloc is getting something in return for their support on this. During the last Harper Minority government, I personally witnessed the Bloc do this, turning their back on things they professed to care about so deeply in pursuit of something else in that moment. The Bloc did that in March 2011, when they backed the Conservatives in killing a pension protection bill while professing to support forestry workers who lost their pensions in bankruptcies. I still believe that kind of cynical BS helped to lead to the undoing of the Bloc in the next election.
But in the end of this, this all looks ugly and feels disheartening. These soldiers came forward, looking for their government and elected representatives to have their backs in their time of need. In that moment, both the Liberals and the Bloc turned their backs on these women. Instead they took care of their own person self-interest and left these brave women hanging out to dry. And when you look at the polling, the majority of Canadians aren’t shocked. So while I shouldn’t be surprised, I was. It reminded me of that ugly chapter back in 2011 and reminded me about how cynical and craven some elected people can be, even with the most important issues to our country and those who serve it. It was a dark day in Ottawa for sure.