Vic Toews
3 min

Spinning the moral panic some more

The moral panic that surrounds the fear of Karla Homolka getting a pardon doesn’t just happen. It takes the work of less than honest members of the government, opposition parties looking to score points and certain media members who can’t be bothered to look beyond the talking points and press releases they’re fed.

Case in point – we’ve known for months that the aforementioned Karla Homolka will be eligible to apply for a pardon on July 5th. So, back in April the government, in the wake of news that convicted pedophile Sheldon Kennedy got a pardon – set about to draft a bill to close that loophole. And in May, they tabled a bill (which Vic Toews assures us is record time for legislation!) But it sat on the Order Paper for a month – and Toews conveniently omits this fact when he starts railing about how the opposition isn’t moving on it.

It was therefore quite rich for the government to start making all of these panicked declarations on how urgent this bill was – with the assistance of certain media outlets, of course. But as they stood in the House to cry out how desperate the situation was, and why couldn’t the opposition just cooperate to get this bill passed, I couldn’t help but wonder why it wasn’t on their agenda until just a week ago, and why they scheduled a week to pass before it returned for debate in the House. Does that sound like an “urgent” piece of legislation?

Add to that, just before Vic Toews was about to meet with Mark Holland to go over concerns about the bill, the Conservatives started making personal attacks about him in Question Period. Because that’s how you ensure cooperation on an “urgent” matter. And in and amidst this, NDP MP Malcolm Allen proposed a bill that he felt met the needs and could be rushed through, and hey, he had the support of Homolka’s victims’ families. But the government turned around and accused them of proposing a bill that would ensure Homolka got her pardon.

And the media? Focused largely on the “urgency” (because moral panics sell papers and get ratings), but not the details. But funny how only Maclean’s, the CBC’s Kady O’Malley and myself could actually bother pointing out that the government dicked around with their own legislative schedule in order to play the moral outrage card, and keep the gamesmanship of using Homolka’s name for their own fortunes going. Because that’s holding the government to account. And sure, an agreement was eventually reached that should see it pass committee tomorrow, but seriously? Did we really need to play the moral panic card?

Question Period, meanwhile, saw Michael Ignatieff and Mark Holland return to the serious business of the costs of the G8 and G20 summits, as well as the apparent hypocrisy of Harper’s position of inviting a bevy of African leaders while his foreign and aid policy would see Canada pull away from the continent. Gilles Duceppe and Carole Freeman asked after Dimitri Soudas ignoring the committee summons (in violation of the law), while Jack Layton – whose questions to Harper were mere afterthoughts on the end of blistering attacks on the Liberals – was treated to more calls by the prime minister for Libby Davies to resign, and at one point saw her being compared to Hamas and Hezbollah. Seriously? Did we really need that kind of hyperbole being thrown about?

Continuing on, more questions about the contracting practices and the federal allocations around the G8 and G20 sites were raised, as was offshore drilling in the Arctic and the national securities regulator. The tale of the government withholding Atlantic Development funds for New Brunswick projects in advance of a provincial election (allegedly to keep other levels of government from taking credit for the projects) made it to QP – while Keith Ashfield, the minister in charge, denied any shenanigans. (Still, a member of the Conservatives accusing his own party of shenanigans – could that mean he’s slipped through the fingers of Harper’s iron grip? Plus, New Brunswick’s premier? Not impressed).

Rounding off QP were questions regarding the Shell refinery in Montreal, land disputes, agro-security around fertilizer stockpiles, forestry and our supply management system in relation to trade talks with the EU.

Sartorially speaking, snaps go out to Judy Foote for her short black dress, paired with a tailored black jacket patterned with red maple leafs. Fantastic! As well, Alexandra Mendes had a great structured navy dress with white polka dots, paired with a short white sweater with navy trim and a tasteful string of pearls. Not so good was Stockwell Day’s beige suit and pink shirt, while he was obviously suffering a sunburn. Also, Larry Miller was going tieless – shocking! Why wasn’t he ejected for that transgression?

Up today – possibly the final sitting day of the spring session. Believe me when I say that everyone is looking forward to going home.
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