Was it because we don’t like her? Or is it that she’s a woman?

06Aug10

Now that we’re all wrapped up talking about press gallery scrums and cabinet shuffles, it’s time to look at a very disturbing situation developing in Ottawa.

Simcoe-Grey MP Helena Guergis has apparently written to all of her former colleagues in the Conservative caucus, pleading with them to let her back in the fold.

“It is my wish to rejoin the conservative family,” reads the letter dated July 28. “It is my hope, that with your support, I would be able to re-enter caucus and continue the work of serving the Prime Minister, our Party and the constituents of Simcoe-Grey,” Guergis wrote.

Guergis is rebounding from several months of utterly disastrous press coverage. But to this day, none of the allegations made against her have been proven. And she’s been cleared of any wrongdoing by the RCMP. So she’s asking to be a Conservative again, which, we should recall, is what her constituents voted for.

But the Prime Minister’s Office remains adamant.

“Our position on this issue has not changed,” said Andrew MacDougall, a spokesman for Prime Minister Stephen Harper. “There were several reasons that Ms. Guergis was removed from caucus. We hold our members to a high standard.”

Guergis has virtually no friends among the columnists of Ottawa’s press gallery, according to the lack of opinions rushing to her defence. And even the press outside the bubble won’t back her. In fact, a recent Barrie Examiner editorial took the PMO’s line and ran with it, after calling Guergis’ defence a “spin job”. It concludes thusly:

Has [Guergis] been treated a little harshly by the PM? Probably. But did Guergis’ conduct at least deserve her removal from Cabinet, given the tight ship Harper runs? Yes, and that story cannot be rewritten.

What if Guergis isn’t spinning anything? Again, nothing has been proven against her.
In response to my tweet on this, colleague Lucas Timmons tweeted the following:

It never ceases to amaze me how women are threatened by other women’s looks. I can think of a few [press gallery] reporters who are guilty.

Time for a serious question. Are we collectively turning on Guergis because a) we don’t like her, b) she’s a woman, or c) both?

Guess what? If the answer is ‘yes’ to any of those options, we need to start asking some more serious questions.

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5 Responses to “Was it because we don’t like her? Or is it that she’s a woman?”

  1. 1 Ben

    I think you need to build a stronger case around the ‘because she’s a woman’ argument before you start throwing that around. Is it because she’s an attractive woman? I don’t accept your premise, but I’ll indulge your theorizing.

    By ‘they’ I sometimes think you mean the Conservative Party, and other times you mean the press corps. Which are you criticizing here?

    Right now, it looks like they (conservatives) don’t like her… because they just don’t like her – and that’s not good enough. More needs to be done to find out the reasons for her removal from caucus, that’s for sure.

  2. 2 Ben

    Re-read:

    Okay, you’re criticizing the press for not coming to her aid with more critical articles. If you’re suggestions what I think you’re suggesting… well, I never thought journalists could be so petty.

  3. 3 Lucas

    There’s also this:
    http://www.theenterprisebulletin.com/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=2696451

    I haven’t seen the video for what it’s worth.

    From everything I’ve heard, and the people I’ve talked to who lost their jobs when she was cast out of caucus, she doesn’t sound like a nice person. She sounds mean. Really mean. I’m not surprised she doesn’t have any friendly columnists rooting for her.

    All that being said, man did the press ever pile on. If that article is true, no one checked out this story. Blond former beauty queen throws a tantrum was all that needed to be said and damn the truth.

    (To be fair, the Globe did talk to an Air Canada employee who said it was the worst tantrum ever, so maybe lies? The truth is subjective.)

    I think the media overplayed this, and then built itself up into a fury when the Toronto Star released the now famous busty hookers story. The parliamentary press gallery spent more time trying to be clever on twitter than they did actually doing their job.

    Every mean spirited joke on Twitter was just that, mean spirited but not reporting. Forgive me if I say that watching the news it seemed that the female reporters seemed, not happy, but somehow vindicated by reporting this story. There was something else there. Maybe going back over the tweets and watching the tape I could identify it, but the general impression I got from women in the press gallery was that Guergis was getting what she deserved.

    Maybe I’m wrong, but that’s the vibe I got from working on Queen St. then. Quite a few colleagues (I won’t out them here, they’re free to post if they want) have told me they felt the same way.

    I agree Nick, it’s time to take a step back and look at what road we’ve walked down. I don’t think any media (men or women) has been fair to her, but I also think men didn’t take the same joy in tearing her down.

  4. I’m criticizing everyone.

  5. It’s because she’s an attractive woman.

    I don’t like that either, but it’s the truth. It’s why women don’t relate to her and men can’t stand her.

    Not that that’s right, but it’s how it is for a woman politician.

    That being said, after all Guergis has done on record — the airport tantrum, her aide writing letters to the editor defending her under a fake name —hasn’t helped her cause.

    But really, who cares how much we like a politician? She’s not my MP. She’s not the PM.

    And all this being said, all you have to do is look back at how Belinda Stronach was treated when she was in politics — most of the hate came from women. We can be each other’s worst enemy.


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