Domino ef­fect

The Beacon (Gander) - - Editorial -

As the say­ing goes, the only con­stant is change. And change there has been — and quickly, too. In Nova Sco­tia, Op­po­si­tion Leader Jamie Bail­lie was out of a job Jan. 24 af­ter an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into com­plaints made by a fe­male staffer in his of­fice about in­ap­pro­pri­ate be­hav­iour. In On­tario, Op­po­si­tion Leader Pa­trick Brown left the same day, af­ter CTV re­vealed com­plaints about his be­hav­iour in­volv­ing two young women, com­plaints dat­ing back to when he was a mem­ber of Par­lia­ment. Then, it was fed­eral Sports Min­is­ter Kent Hehr — re­moved as a min­is­ter by the prime min­is­ter af­ter com­plaints about in­ap­pro­pri­ate sex­ual re­marks al­legedly made when he was an Al­berta MLA sur­faced on Twit­ter. A CTV news an­chor, Paul Bliss, was sus­pended Jan. 26 af­ter a blog post by a for­mer net­work em­ployee re­vealed — with­out iden­ti­fy­ing Bliss by name — that she had been sex­u­ally ha­rassed by a fel­low CTV em­ployee. She wrote the blog post af­ter see­ing the man she says ha­rassed her post­ing on Twit­ter about Pa­trick Brown’s po­lit­i­cal down­fall. Then, On­tario PC Party pres­i­dent Rick Dyk­stra re­signed over the week­end, two hours af­ter be­ing con­tacted by Ma­clean’s mag­a­zine about al­le­ga­tions that he sex­u­ally as­saulted a Con­ser­va­tive staffer at a party in 2014 — de­spite know­ing about the al­le­ga­tions, the Con­ser­va­tives let Dysk­tra run un­der the Tory ban­ner in the 2015 fed­eral elec­tion. By the time you read this, there may well be more. If there haven’t been more by then, there al­most cer­tainly will be more in the next few days or weeks. First, be­cause the team na­ture of pol­i­tics, the cul­ture of drink­ing and, dare we say it, the per­son­al­ity traits of many suc­cess­ful male politi­cians lit­er­ally make op­por­tu­ni­ties for abu­sive be­hav­iour. Se­cond, be­cause voices that have been stilled in the past — in­di­vid­ual, of­ten young, women try­ing to make them­selves heard over the grind­ing wheels of the re­spec­tive po­lit­i­cal machines — fi­nally have the pub­lic ear. Look at the dates on some of th­ese com­plaints; some haven’t been prop­erly dealt with in over a decade. That means there is po­ten­tially a back­log of im­prop­erly han­dled, or even un­re­ported, ha­rass­ment stretch­ing back for years. The quick re­ac­tion to com­plaints may mean more women will be will­ing to come for­ward — though com­ing for­ward is any­thing but easy. The com­plainant in the Hehr case, for ex­am­ple, says that, since she first posted her con­cerns on Twit­ter, she’s been threat­ened and ma­ligned to the point that she’s afraid to leave her house. “The last 48 hours has shown me the best of peo­ple and cer­tainly the worst,” she tweeted. “This is why peo­ple don’t speak up.” But women are any­way. It’s a de­layed reck­on­ing that prob­a­bly has more than a few politi­cians — and per­haps some in the pow­er­house world of the Ot­tawa me­dia scene — wor­ry­ing about whether there are any skele­tons get­ting ready to come out of their closets. Buckle up.

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