Offensiveness of convenience

While all are free to form individual opinions, we suggest taking a consistent stance

Where’s your pole to slide down on?

It’s an odd question to ask anyone other than, perhaps, a firefighter – but odder still, to ask a political opponent during a closed-door meeting to discuss national business.

Still, that’s the rhetorical comment South Surrey-White Rock MP Dianne Watts says she heard when her cellphone ringtone – designated for her daughter’s calls, and described as “jaunty” – sounded.

While Nicola Di Iorio might well have intended his question to be received as a light-hearted joke, we won’t know for certain until the Liberal MP for Saint Léonard-Saint Michel addresses the issue publicly. His Conservative counterpart, however, recounts the reaction from others in the room was one of uncomfortableness.

By any account an odd situation, it is made perhaps oddest by the reaction and online comments to this story, in which anti-Liberals call out sexist behaviour and anti-Conservatives suggest anyone offended should develop a sense of humour. In fact, non-Conservatives have been bending over backwards to explain how: 1) the ‘pole’ in question isn’t necessarily a ‘stripper pole’; 2) a closed-door meeting is no place for personal calls; and 3) this is non-news.

Really? A Canadian MP’s joke that can easily be interpreted as sexist, and most definitely insulting is non-news? Apologists for Di Iorio and/or his party would do well to remind themselves that their leader – our prime minister – has gone on record calling himself a feminist. One can only imagine the Liberal response if the late Conservative Toronto Mayor Rob Ford had made such a comment to one of his political opponents.

While all are free to form individual opinions, we suggest each of us should take a consistent stance, regardless of likability, regardless of party affiliation and regardless of political spin. Otherwise, the next time we hear such a joke or comment in the House – or on the street – we’ll know exactly where one really stands on the issue, stretching personal credibility to the limit.

Black Press