02.20.2012 11:56 AM

Have we created a monster?

For years, I’ve been arguing that liberals and progressives need to get tougher when fighting conservatives. Way tougher.

But l’affaire Toews suggests that (a) liberals and progressives agree and (b) they’re eager to get even dirtier than the Cons.

Listen to an old man, kids (or, better yet, buy and read my books). Go after your opponent’s public record. Not his or her private life.

(That said, I am blown away about how visceral is the hatred for Vic Toews. Never seen anything like it.)

67 Comments

  1. Bill says:

    No monster has been created and 95% of people have not followed the Vic Toews drama.
    Average Joe could care less about the private lives.

  2. Jay says:

    Generally when an MP calls the general internet using population pedophiles, they can get pretty agitated. If nothing else, the hatred isn’t enough.

  3. Patrick says:

    My own disagreement with Victor Toews was confined to the respectful parameters of the partisan and political until he called me a child molester, or at the very least an advocate of child molestation.

    Second, his decision to piss on the graves of 14 women by holding a gun control evisceration party was pretty heavy and disrespectful.

    Third, posing as a paragon of Christian righteousness when you are impregnating 20-something staffers and bumming on $800 a month in child support while making Ministerial salary is, frankly, scummy.

    The leaking of this info is not ideal, but let’s be categorically clear: the story here is a rogue, unethical Minister, not a Twitter account. Period.

  4. SandraTheLoonieLefty says:

    There are more people who have the same hate for all Conservatives. This is just the beginning.

  5. catherine says:

    Canada doesn’t have the same level of “family values” hypocrisy that the US has. Politicians do not need to espouse all the personal “family values” rhetoric in order to get elected here. I don’t understand it, but I suspect it must be some high level of entitlement that drives Toews to publicly claim some moral high ground on family values while living exactly the opposite.

  6. Bruce says:

    Hey Buddy,

    As a card carrying progressive who hopes for politics to be all sunshine and roses, I really want to be able to agree with you in this instance (most of the time I do). However, I think this particular issue is an exception. There is a sort of poetry to having a minister who wants to accrue to government the unwarranted power to monitor citizens and invade their privacy be subjected to an invasion of privacy himself. I don’t think we ought to generalize the practice of airing ministers’ dirty laundry, but in this particular case the ‘Vikileaks’ and ‘TellVicEverything’ stuff is a picture-perfect way of chastising a government that all too easily dispenses with tricky trivialities like rights, evidence, and – yes – civility. There’s nothing the powerful hate more than a breach of civility, and there’s nothing conservatives hate more than being inconveniently subjected to their self-professed practices and principles. Like you – ceteris peribus – I really do want a higher public dialogue about important issues, and not about persons’ characters. However, when Ministers of the Crown start attacking the fundamentals – the basic rights of citizens – then fuck civility.

    • Philip says:

      I have said before, I see this as a one time beat down of the village asshole. There is a natural justice at play here that I think most people recognize.

      • Bruce says:

        I think that’s wrong though. It’s not about ‘an eye for an eye’, and the people who are saying this is a you-reap-what-you-sow situation are wrong, too. The reason why this is an exception is because the spectacle of Toews being subjected to an invasion of privacy is itself a perfect illustration of what’s wrong with the bill, because the bill will make all Canadians’ private internet usage subject to government scrutiny. Toews is personally experiencing what’s wrong with this bill! It’s so phenomenological! (sorry, geek moment)

        As such, there is simply no way Toews and the government can defend themselves without making a total performative contradiction, which is why they’ve backed the truck up (and sided with the child pornographers!). As I said: its practically poetic.

  7. Michael says:

    Everyone here seems to be focusing on the flap over salacious details of Toews’ personal life and the hypocrisy of it all.

    However, if you read the VikiLeak30 twitter feed, there is a bigger ticking time bomb. If I were an opposition MP, I would be looking over the details of Toews’ expenses. Did he claim per diems (with no receipts) and then expense meals on the same day?

    It is easier to bring down a politician with his hand in the cookie jar (especially one whose party came to power on the heels of a scandal with the promise to clean things up), then it is to bring one down with his pants around his ankles. 😉

  8. que sera sera says:

    Have “we” created a monster?

    No I would suggest that Vic Toews & his band of illiterati spewing BS 24/7/365 and treating the electorate like they have the collective IQ of a can of Spam has created a monster.

    Interesting what happens when citizens remind an entire political party who pays the bills for the Government of Canada.

  9. William says:

    Some might say Vic made it personal when he said anyone against the bill sides with child pornographers.

    Reap what you sow.

  10. andy says:

    Warren:

    ..careful who you are calling “kids”—being in receipt of OAS I’m much older than you are!!

    this is a classic case of reaping what you sow. Harper has been intent on ‘americanizing’ Canada (Republican version) for years, and now it is starting to bear fruit

    • MCBellecourt says:

      And, let’s not forget the 1500 or so staffers that infect every news thread with their poison on our frigging dime! Hired By Stephen Harper, to threaten and ridicule their fellow posters for disagreeing with the goobermint. For six long years we’ve been putting up with this shit, while trying to have discussions on news sites–and paying for it.

      Enough, I say.

  11. AP says:

    “That said, I am blown away about how visceral is the hatred for Vic Toews. Never seen anything like it.”

    This is only the beginning. I’m going to give Stephen Harper credit. Since first elected in 2006 he has done a more or less good job of keeping the Reform party fringe safely tucked away in the attic. However, there is a pretty fierce group of people who’ve been licking their chops waiting for the first blatant sign that the Reform party zealots are alive and well. Once Toews equated those who oppose a piece of legislation with child pornographers the battle was joined. As I said, this is only the beginning. Harper and his crew have engaged in brass knuckle politics for a while now and this was the first real week that those who oppose him and his party got in a good sold shot. Harper et al were bloodied this week and they were so off their game that those who oppose them have been shocked at how easily they wobbled. When Buster Douglas knocked out Mike Tyson that was the beginning of the end for Iron Mike.

    For years now we’ve been fed the Harper Conservatives as master tacticians bull shit. Vic Toews showed they’re not. The curtains were pulled back and they were exposed for the puny-minded right wing zealots they really are.

    Last week was the week we’ve been waiting for and the blowback was so intense that I don’t see it dissipating any time soon. If anything it will get more intense.

    • MCBellecourt says:

      I sure as hell hope so. The Harper Conservatives and their paid toadies are entirely to blame for this, and they can bloody well wear it.

    • KP says:

      Bang on. For the first few years of his stint at PM, Harper did an excellent job of keeping the old, (mostly) rural, Reform-era wingnuts under wraps. Occasionally, people like Trost, Goodyear and Vellacott would mouth off, but mostly it was the same collection of long-time backbenchers.

      With someone like Toews, who carries a lot more public profile as the Minister of Public Safety, publicly accusing Canadians who aren’t in favour of a very intrusive bill of being pedophiles, the Conservatives’ image problem is finally on display.

  12. Harith says:

    Toews, and by extension the cons, would do the same thing.

    • MCBellecourt says:

      Didn’t they already, with the slanderous and libelous treatment of Martin, Dion and Ignatieff? I see no indication whatsoever that they will back down from those tactics. Hence, my post immediately above this one. Let them wear it.

  13. frmr disgruntled Con now Happy Lib says:

    I thought ministers of the crown, but especially lawyers, would know the minutiae of the legislation they are introducing to the
    House….perhaps Mr. Toews should read his own legislation(albeit drafted by his minions) more carefully.

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/story/2012/02/19/pol-toews-surveillance-bill-content-reaction.html

  14. allan brwon says:

    I have no qualms about bringing the public divorce records of Vic Toews into the spotlight. Those arguing his “private” life is, and should remain, completely separate from his public, political one are showing themselves to be enablers of a culture of tolerance that saddles Canadians with political leaders lacking in what should be essential character qualifications for any political job – moral and ethical standards that show strength of character, honesty and integrity.
    To say what someone does in his “private” life has no bearing on his public one is a fool’s argument. One’s private doings are more likely demonstrative of the REAL person than the face he wears when in public. The fact Vic Toews was secretly boinking the family’s teenage babysitter for years, impregnated her at 20 years of age (which finally led to the divorce) then refused to pay child support payments of $800/month to his first wife as she continued to raise their children should be known by EVERY Canadian. To argue these despicable actions have NO BEARING on the man’s public life and need not be known by the electorate allows people like Mr. Toews to continue to influence and impact the lives of millions of Canadians when that is the last thing he should be allowed to do.
    Like any job, “politician” should require some fundamental “skill sets”, some key positive personal attributes that include honesty and integrity. Vic Toews has shown he possesses neither. ‘Nough said.

  15. Mulletaur says:

    When the Conservatives stop push polling during election campaigns using “would you still vote for X if you knew that he was y” questions involving the personal life of the candidate in question, progressives can stop attacking the hypocritical and morally corrupt Conservatives on their private lives. Not until.

    Also, if Toews were other than a douchebag of the first order, there would be a bit of sympathy for him, and the personal attacks would rebound. It’s not happening.

    I think you need to take a step back and look at this in a more dispassionate way. Progressives are still going to hate Toews whether this sort of attack takes place or not, so the method here is not going to make much difference. The trick here is to push Conservatives into starting to question their support for a government that includes people who have done the things that Toews is alleged to have done.

  16. Chris says:

    You did the same thing to Stockwell Day and his religous views so amazed you are now taken back by this sort of thing.

    • Chris says:

      For what it’s worth, that’s a different Chris than this one. (but I think you can tell on your comment approval system)

    • Chris says:

      Ah right, because going after ones religion is okay but going after a politicians private life and he proposes to do the same to Canadians is bad?

    • Chris P says:

      For the record I agree with ‘Chris #2’, that ‘Chris #1’ is not me (i.e.Chris #3). Does that make sense?

  17. Philippe says:

    When you join public office as a lawmaker, you adhere to a higher standard set of rules, especially when you claim moral high ground and preach morality like Vic. He’s been exposed as the room’s biggest hypocrite. He called me & millions of Canadians child pornography sympathizers because we don’t agree with him on policy. If he wanted to keep debate focused on the merits of his bill, he shouldn’t have called us child pornography sympathizers. Time for this jerk reap what he sowed.

  18. Matt says:

    Vic Toews been calling his opponents child molesters for as long as he’s been an MP – at least 10 years. He’s campaigned to tighten the child-porn laws so that they apply to fictional words; he’s campaigned to raise the age of consent to well above the biologically normal age at which most people start sexual activity; he’s campaigned for increased wiretapping and other powers for the police in all the previous incarnations of C-30; and he’s claimed that gay marriages are comparable to “Satanic Black Masses.” His standard line has always been that anyone who doesn’t support him is a child pornographer and a child molester. It’s all in the Hansard. The only thing new is that this time, you noticed. What took you so long?

  19. bigcitylib says:

    “But l’affaire Toews suggests that (a) liberals and progressives agree and (b) they’re eager to get even dirtier than the Cons.”

    Cons have been as eager to pile on Toews as anyone else. The whole nation thinks he’s a dick. You’re the only that’s shown any softness towards the man.

    • Warren says:

      I think he’s a jerk, too. But I also remember who was the most popular exiting President in the history of polling – one Bill Clinton.

      Strategies based on emotion never work.

      • steve w says:

        Comparing one of the most popular US presidents in recent memory and a lowbrow, uber-conservative Canadian minister of safety from Manitoba? That’s a stretch and a half.

        • Cam says:

          If the con base knew about this type of behavior, would they still vote for candidates like Toews? And if so than what does that say about our fellow con Canadians?

  20. Lawrence Stuart says:

    I’m afraid I must equivocate a bit on this one.

    I’m not one to want for revealing the sad or sordid details of the lives of public figures. They are just people, and people (all of us) do things that are … complicated, and ought not to be fodder for public chatter.

    OTOH, some public figures make a career out of their virtue, or of demonizing the failings of others. Newt Gingrich springs to mind. Muck raking Newt’s private life seems quite justified, if not a form of divine justice.

    Vic Toews is a self righteous blowhard. His hypocrisy is an order of magnitude below that of Newt, but the whole ‘discipline and punish’ mentality he personifies certainly sets itself on a high moral platform, from there to pronounce judgement on the wicked and the sinful below. So I well understand the delight when the judge is shown to be as tainted by sin and folly as those he so carelessly condemns.

    But please consider that it is not only Minister Toews who is hurt by this business. His wife, in particular, is now twice wronged: first by her husband, and now by public humiliation. So while I can delight in a certain schadenfreude with regards to Minister Toews discomfort, I am really quite saddened by what this means for those members of his family who are dealing with what looks to be a very sad and difficult personal crisis.

    So in the all in all, I guess I’d have to side with Kinsella on this one. Muck raking like this doesn’t just knock Vic Toews of his high holy horse, it screws over people who are not political, and already hurting.

    It is, therefore, wrong.

    The tell Vic everything campaign, on the other hand, is pure genius.

    First the OAS announcement in Davos, now this botched attempt to bring in a Bill that’s been around in various forms since, what, the mid-90’s? They are mortal, and fallible, and defeat-able my friends. No need to immerse ourselves in slime.

  21. que sera sera says:

    Give the Republicans credit where credit is due for assisting in creating this monster.

    Apparently Harper’s spying bill is a verbatim copy of US GOP bill from 2011. Harper doesn’t just plagiarize speeches from foreign governments but also Bills:

    US Republican Bill Submitted 05/25/11: “Protecting Children From Internet Pornographers Act of 2011″ (H.R. 1981)
    http://thomas.loc.gov/home/thomas.php
    (do a search for the Bill’s name at the Library of Congress)

    Canadian CPC Bill Submitted 02/15/12: ‘Protecting Children from Internet Predators Act’
    http://www.parl.gc.ca/HousePublications/Publication.aspx?Language=E&Mode=1&DocId=5380965&File=32#1

    Read them for yourselves. Which is more than Toews could be bothered doing.

  22. Merrill Smith says:

    I wonder what would happen if someone started calling the good people of Provencher to ask how they intend to vote in the upcoming by-election that will be called when their current MP, a certain Vic Toews, resigns as is rumored he plans to do.

  23. Honest Abe says:

    Interesting how none of the comments which say things like “One’s private doings are more likely demonstrative of the REAL person than the face he wears when in public” are applying that kind of logic to politicians they agree with. Would been interesting to see the results if that kind of logic had been used against, say, Martin Luther King Jr. – wait, it was…by J. Edgard Hoover.

  24. Neil says:

    What surprises me is that this happened before and Harper did it himself. Remember back in 2004 election the Tories sent out a news release saying Paul Martin was “with the child pornographers” and arguably that cost them the election, especially when Harper defended it. Toews used the same talking point and look what happened…Canadians seem to find calling someone a pedophile the bridge too far in attacks, something everyone should remember.

  25. Conservative Socialist says:

    As a swing voter who voted Conservative in the last election, I am glad that the public is expressing outrage at this government’s overreach.

    F— you Vic Taves for calling internet users “pedophiles” because we don’t believe that police should get to abuse their power in order to manufacture criminals where none exist or to make their jobs easier.

    Before you namby pamby “progressives” accuse me of being an enabler of this government and say “we told you so!”, I find much to dislike in pretty much all of the major Canadian political parties. I probably find myself in agreement iwth about 50% of the Conservative platform.

  26. Patrice Boivin says:

    I agree with my mother, who did a psychology degree in the 1960s and worked at the Ottawa General Hospital’s psychiatric admissions ward… all MPs, higher level bureaucrats and leaders of NGOs should have to undergo the MMPI-R to weed out dishonest people, paranoids and other weirdos who love the limelight.

    Personal life and public life are the same, it’s all part of the same person. You can’t separate the two, unless they have multiple personality disorder… If you have integrity in your personal life you will have integrity in your public life, and vice versa.

    • Honest Abe says:

      So your mother would have supported J. Edgar Hoover’s campaign against Martin Luther King Jr. then?

      • Jan says:

        That was the government spying on a citizen, which Toews would be enabling with this bill.

        • Honest Abe says:

          That’s immaterial to the principles being claimed by posters in this thread. If you claim the principle that:

          “Personal life and public life are the same, it’s all part of the same person. You can’t separate the two, unless they have multiple personality disorder… If you have integrity in your personal life you will have integrity in your public life, and vice versa.”

          Then – unless you’re claiming that Martin Luther King Jr. had multiple personality disorder – you would be committed to agreeing J. Edgar Hoover’s position that King the inconsistency between King’s private and public personas would render it acceptable to discredit his public persona on the basis of his private persona.

          Similarly, when a poster above claims that:

          “I believe the public has a right to know when a politician does not practice what he preaches in real life”

          You would have to accept, then, that King’s adulterous and duplicitous private actions were something which the public at the time should have been informed of, and they would have to readjust their opinion of his public persona in an accordingly negative direction.

          And, when another poster above writes that:

          “One’s private doings are more likely demonstrative of the REAL person than the face he wears when in public.”

          That poster is must be committed to claiming that Martin Luther King Jr. is better remembered and should have been known during his lifetime as an adulterous, duplicitous hypocrite, instead as of a moral and political hero.

          You don’t have to approve of every specific method that J. Edgar Hoover deployed in order to be logically consistent.

          Unless, of course, the Liberal posters in this thread have no real principles at all – and have not even thought through the ones that they claim to have enough to realize its implications. In other words: unless they’re hypocritical morons and blind partisans.

      • smelter rat says:

        Could someone please fix the Abe-bot?

        • Honest Abe says:

          Yes, you wouldn’t want someone to be pointing out flaws in your logic now, would you?

        • Honest Abe says:

          Davies writes that he:

          “didn’t realize that Martin Luther King Jr was an elected government official”

          In fact, this statement is the only strawman around, since you’ll notice that the comments that I quoted from do not refer to elected officials – they refer to the difference between private and public life simply. So, if someone says:

          ““One’s private doings are more likely demonstrative of the REAL person than the face he wears when in public.”

          That is not a statement about elected officials. It’s a statement about the relationship between private and public life.

          Besides which, King may not have been an elected official, but he was unquestionably a public figure and also a political figure, one who was extensively engaged in working with elected officials.

          So there is no reason not to apply the principles claimed by most of these commenters to King. If they fail to apply those principles, it only goes to show that they don’t really have those principles at all. They have one standard for people that they like, and a different standard for people that they dislike. They’re hypocrites. Just what they’re calling Toews.

  27. Anne Peterson says:

    I think it may have to do with a build up of resentment about the fact the conservatives seem to get away with so much. Election expense fraud – nothing happens. Chatting up foreign spies – nothing happens. Missuse of aircraft – nothing happens. Tricky stuff with government spending a la Clement- nothing happens. Hide stuff about toture – nothing happens. Cut off debate in parliament – nothing happens. The RCMP does nothing. The media soft pedals if they mention stuff at all (the famous agreement about I will not reveal anything if you give me access seems to side sneakily into not reporting things the public should know about). It all seem so cozy and wrong. People are angry and they are tired of hypocracy and the conservative dog whistle (oh I love that phrase) politics and they want some justice. Besides I think a person who runs on family values is fair game if they don’t live it and most Canadian think that way too. Remember what happened when the resentmant built up high enough before the French Revolution.

    I suspect the conservative don’t mean the same thing when they talk about family values as most Canadians do. I mean by it take care of your childen and treat you spouse fairly and honestly even in break up situations. They mean don’t allow same sex marrriage and don’t allow contraception and father knows best. (dog whistle)

  28. Anne Peterson says:

    Did I say they had banned those things? Don’t think so. I said that is the code message about what they will do when they can that is sent out to their supporters. When they say that they will not allow refugees from Europe because Europe is rich and no one there should need to be a refugee, most take that at face value, even if it doesn’t make any sense. The dog whistle message is ‘we won’t allow any more of those Romney from Hungary to get into Canada, even if they do need to get away from a country that grows more fascist every day’ .

  29. Anne Peterson says:

    The pornography message was the dog whistle message and when Vic Toews brought it down to sensibe human range Canadians reacted.

  30. David Imrie says:

    I live in Manitoba. No one except his constituents can stand him.

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