Open letter to MP Ryan Leef:
The day after Justin Trudeau was elected the leader of the Liberal Party, the hate ads were on television. Luckily for the Conservative Party, the Liberals aren’t given to litigation. There were at least two clear libels in those ads: one attributing a quote from Mr. Trudeau’s father to him, and the other implying that the modeling show was a silly party when in fact it was a fundraiser for the Canadian Liver Foundation. (He raised them $1,900 on their behalf.)
Conservatives seem to be particularly upset over the thought of Trudeau taking his shirt off. Conservative Party spokesman, Fred DeLory said, “We believe Justin Trudeau’s eagerness to perform a strip-tease, regardless of the venue or putative cause, says something about his judgment.” Lisa Raitt went further, stating, “You wouldn’t see me making that move, getting up on a walkway and taking clothes off in front of a bunch of men or women.”
Ryan, the next time you see Lisa Raitt and Fred Delory, please reassure them. No one will ever pay money to see them take their clothes off.
Character assassination has been a Conservative mainstay tactic since Stephen Harper first came into power. Tom Flanagan, former strategic advisor to Harper and author of Harper’s Team, advised the use of slander and quoted Cicero: “See that your whole campaign is full of show, glorious and colourful; and see that your competitors are smeared with an evil reputation for crime, vice, or bribery.”
Slander is a form of bullying. There has been a whole industry built up around it in Canada. For example, companies such as Sun News Network use slander and insults in their articles and features. Communications companies such as Summa Strategies Canada make good money from what they call a “highly market-orientated approach to campaigning.”
Somebody produces those hate ads and gets paid for it. Senator Doug Findley was very well rewarded by the Conservative Party for his past contributions to character assassination campaigns. One can now create a profitable career out of malice, a career that might be very attractive to individuals with personality disorders.
This is one area where it hasn’t been necessary to bring in foreign workers.
In response to the tragic suicide of Rehtaeh Parsons, Stephen Harper said that “bullying to me has a kind of connotation of kids misbehaving.” This is an evasion. By separating the deadly harassment of a child from the less newsworthy activities of schoolyard thugs, Mr. Harper is attempting to say that bullying, and by extension Conservative use of personal attacks on opponents, is only mischief. It’s a “boys will be boys” sort of thing. Something we should shrug off with a wink.
It’s not. Acceptance of bullying by adults is what makes children think that they can harass another child to death. This is true whether it happens on the playground, on the Internet or in politics.
As a part of my work, I frequently find myself in schools. They are plastered with anti-bullying posters. My favourite reads, “You are what you do.”
If you slander people, you are a slanderer. If you spread lies about others, it means that you are a liar. If you create hate ads and put them on television, that makes you hateful.
May you walk on the high road.