Two Views on Helena Guergis: 1) R-E-S-P-E-C-T

by | April 16, 2010
filed under Can-Con, Feminism, Politics

It’s pretty hard to find Canadian media not talking about Helena Guergis, and we’re not going to be the exception. Today we have two differing viewpoints on the continuing coverage of the scandals surrounding Guergis. To start, here’s a piece from A.B.

Helena Guergis

Helena Guergis: R-E-S-P-E-C-T

Last month I wrote about the biased, unfair media attention which plagued Conservative MP, Helena Guergis in response to her ‘emotional outburst’ at the Charlottetown airport.

Since then, media fascination with Helena Guergis has not subsided. The scandals have kept coming:

Guergis’ office assistant was caught sending letters praising the Minister to the local newspaper posing as a regular voter. Guergis claimed to have had no knowledge of these letters.

There were accusations that Guergis was given a mortgage for the full $880,000 amount for a home in Ottawa. This alleged arrangement reeked of preferential treatment which would have been in violation of the conflict of interest code. Liberal MP, Marlene Jennings wrote to the federal ethics commissioner asking her to look into this matter.

Last week reports surfaced that, Guergis’ husband, Rahim Jaffer was boasting to business contacts about his access to Harper’s inner circle and made promises to obtain government funds for them. This directly impacted Guergis because it is reported that Jaffer wrote personal emails using one of Guergis’ parliamentary accounts on a government issued blackberry.

Opposition MPs have been calling for Guergis to resign for over a month and just last week they finally got what they have been asking for – Guergis resigned from her cabinet position. She will remain MP for Simcoe Grey but she was asked by the Prime Minister to sit outside the Conservative caucus while the RCMP investigates ‘serious allegations’ over her conduct (no more specifics were given).

So, what’s to make of this Guergis saga?

There is absolutely no doubt Guergis made mistakes – some of her own doing and I also believe the actions of her husband contributed to her demise. However, the media coverage which plagued Guergis has been nothing short of humiliating and it has been going on for months. I have a really difficult time understanding why our society has so much interest and fascination in watching the demise of a female politician. What happened to respect, compassion, empathy and all that good stuff?

I also find it particularly disheartening that with all this discussion about the Minister of State (Status of Women) there has been hardly any discussion about the real issue – her job. In particular, how well she is doing her job? What has she been doing to improve the status of women in this country? This is what should be considered newsworthy

Guergis will answer for her actions in the next election, should she decide to run again. In the meantime, I am still hoping we will be able to move on and focus on the real political issues.