Helena Guergis: More than just an “emotional outburst”

by | March 17, 2010
filed under Can-Con, Feminism, Politics

Helena Guergis

Helena Guergis was elected in 2004 as the Conservative Member of Parliament for Simcoe-Grey. She currently occupies the position of Minister of State for Status of Women.

Last month, Guergis had a much publicized ‘emotional outburst’ (her words) at the airport in Charlottetown, PEI. Arriving late for her plane and anxious to get home and celebrate her birthday, Guergis was told to go through security and she lost her temper. The Minister reportedly threw her boots, attempted to force open locked gates, berated the airport staff and referred to the province as a “hellhole.”

Once this story hit the news, Guergis publicly apologized for the outburst to the staff members at the airport and admitted that her actions were not appropriate.

But that wasn’t the end of it…

Guergis has been the fascination of the media for weeks now. Her ‘outburst’ has been described as a “temper-tantrum” – wording that would probably never be used to describe males acting in the same way. The media is also guilty of constantly discussing Guergis’ actions in relation to her husband, who is of no relevance to the story. Can someone tell me why the media always has to discuss females in relation to men?

Back in Ottawa, the Liberal Party has been calling for Guergis to resign. Liberal critic for the Status of Women, Anita Neville has publicly blasted the Minister insisting that “an apology is not enough”

Here’s my position, there is no doubt that Guergis’ actions were unacceptable but, I believe that this issue has become about so much more than that specific ‘outburst’. Guergis has faced biased, unfair media attention, the kind which only seems to be reserved for female candidates and politicians and not their male counterparts.

Take for example, the Minister of Transport John Baird, who had an ‘emotional outburst’ of his own last June when he told the city of Toronto to “f*** off” over a stimulus application that was not filled out properly. This did not receive even close to the same amount of media coverage. Where were the calls for his resignation? After insulting 2.48 million people in Toronto (compared to 141,000 people in the whole province of Prince Edward Island), he apologized and that was the end of it.

There is a double standard and women in politics must demand balanced portrayals in the media!

Guergis apologized and I think it’s safe to say she has learned her lesson. So let’s move on already and focus on the real political issues.

-A. B.

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