Jan. 02, 2013 - Issue #898: Apocalypse Not?
Faffs, gaffes and laughs
Politcal tongue trip-ups of 2012
WILDROSE PRICKS ITSELF
During the spring election campaign, the party proved that a rose by any other name would smell a lot sweeter than the stink bombs and mind-grenades they dropped.
First came the bust that was the Wildrose campaign bus, the image worth a thousand laughs. When first rolled out in Edmonton in mid-March, its poorly placed picture of Danielle Smith had the leader with a set of back wheels right where her chest would be. A photo went viral on Twitter. Soon, even Jay Leno was tittering at the goof on air.
The boobs kept coming. In mid-April, a 2011 blog post from candidate Allan Hunsperger, a minister in Tofield, AB spread via Twitter. Hunsperger had written that gays and lesbians "can live the way you were born, and if you die the way you were born then you will suffer the rest of eternity in the lake of fire, hell, a place of eternal suffering." Hunsperger removed the post, while Smith lamely said the candidate would keep his religious views personal. Hunsperger, running in Edmonton South, lost.
Soon after, at an April 19 debate, Smith declared, to some boos and catcalls, that, "There is still a debate in the scientific community" over global warming, though only about 97 percent of climate researchers disagree with her.
Then Calgary-Greenway candidate Ron Leech, a retired pastor, told a multicultural radio station, "I think, as a Caucasian, I have an advantage. When different community leaders, such as a Sikh leader or a Muslim leader, speaks, they really speak to their own people in many ways. As a Caucasian, I believe that I can speak to all the community," Leech said. Smith refused to censure or drop the candidate, even as Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi, who lives in the riding, criticized the comments. Leech lost to PC candidate Manmeet Bhullar.
Alison Redford's PCs made some blue-boos of their own. During the campaign, staffer Amanda Wilkie stepped down after thoughtlessly tweeting about the Wildrose leader, "If @ElectDanielle likes young and growing families so much, why doesn't she have children of her own?"
In July, deputy premier Thomas Lukaszuk posted a "joke" caption beneath a photo of the Fairmont Hot Springs mudslide (stranding about 600 tourists, some of them Albertans) on his Facebook page: "Fairmont in Hot Springs has a good deal on rooms today. If a little bit of mud doesn't bother you, book now!!!" He soon removed the post and apologized.
Toronto mayor Rob Ford, so pig-headed about repaying $3150 to the public trough for inappropriate use of council resources in 2010 that it could cost him his position, remained infected with hoof-in-mouth disease. The Municipal Conflict of Interest Act dictated his repayment, but in September Ford noted, "I've never read that before."
In March, expressing his vision for Toronto's transit system, he declared, "People want subways, folks ... subways, subways. They don't want these damn streetcars blocking up our city!" Come July, while discussing TTC expansion, he remarked, "I cannot support taxing the taxpayer."
After the legal decision went against him in November, Ford contended, "The people are going to speak. I'm not going to have people who say, 'You can't do this, you can't do that.' I'm going to fight for the taxpayers like I always have." But back in June, Ford had blamed everyday folk for a plastic-bag ban proposed by a member of his own executive: "It's the people's fault. Honestly, sometimes I get so frustrated because the people are just sitting back listening. They don't pick up the phone, they don't go down to city hall, they don't ask questions, they just ... it's frustrating." One of the "people," though, protester Ken Garnum, observed of Ford, "I don't think he's evil. He just can't tell the difference between right and wrong."
HARPER AND CO TOEWSER CRITICS, LEAVE A BAD ODA, AND DRIVE UP THE AIR MILES
At the federal level, Stephen Harper's crew took their share of time off from common sense. In February, Public Safety Minister Vic Toews told Liberal critic Francis Scarpaleggia that, if he opposed Toews' bill granting police more surveillance powers, "He can either stand with us or with the child pornographers."
In July, soon after minister Bev Oda, already caught for upgrading her room while in London's five-star Savoy Hotel and spending taxpayer money on a luxury car, announced that she was stepping down, aide Justin Broekema admitted that she had smoked in her office and paid for two air-purifiers with taxpayer money. "To my knowledge, she never paid fines," he said about her illegal indoor smoking; as for the purifiers, "We put [them] in the expense column," Broekema said.
During the Prime Minister's November visit to India, Harper travelled in two armoured cars flown in from Canada. Toews cited "operational consideration," but NDP MP Peggy Nash wasn't buying it, since Canadians were paying for it. "This is not about security," Nash said. "Can we please get a straight answer to this simple question—how much is it costing to send the prime minister's personal limos to the Taj Mahal?"
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