Now that the plague that is Rob Anders has ended – fittingly, and Biblically, just as Holy Week and Passover commenced – let us give thanks and praise to God. And analyze what it means.
Anders, as a long-mortified Canada will know, has represented Northwest Calgary and environs for nearly two decades. As a Reform MP, an Alliance MP and now a Conservative MP, Anders has been a pestilential blight on Canadian public life, more horrible than a week-long Justin Bieber retrospective.
He called Nelson Mandela a “terrorist,” quote unquote. He fell asleep in the House of Commons. He attacked veterans, who had objected to the fact that he fell asleep in a meeting with them.
He implied Thomas Mulcair somehow responsible for Jack Layton’s passing – saying that Mulcair “arm-twisted” the former NDP leader into campaigning in 2011. He was hired as a “professional heckler” by a Republican candidate. He authored a private member’s bill, indelicately referred to as “The Bathroom Bill,” which was aimed at eliminating the threat to children by transgendered people in public washrooms. (He had an unusual degree of interest in what people do in their bedrooms, too.)
He was a fool, in other words. He was the worst Member of Parliament in a singularly undistinguished House of Commons.
Anders’ blessed departure from the national stage – he will probably now take up residence in the Wildrose Party, where he belongs – is welcome news. But what does the news portend for his enablers, like Stephen Harper, Jason Kenney and John Baird?
For years, Messrs. Harper, Kenney, Baird et al. had looked the other way while Anders rolled around in the gutter. Harper quietly endorsed Anders in the Signal Hill Conservative nomination battle. Kenney, meanwhile, was far less subtle, and openly called on local Conservatives to rally around Anders.
And Baird – in between partying with friends at the fancy taxpayer-supported digs of the Canadian High Commissioner in London, and the Consul-General in New York – has professed to be a progressive Conservative. While doing precisely nothing about the toxic presence of Anders in the Conservative caucus for year after year.
Anders’ defeat in Signal Hill is not the first of such defeats for Harper, Kenney, Baird et al. In recent months, the number of Harper acolytes who have ended up under the proverbial bus – from Nigel Wright to Mike Duffy to Marc Nadon – has grown exponentially. (They may soon require a new bus to toss people under, in fact.)
Part of the reason for all of this Conservative unhappiness, to be fair, is a natural consequence of being in power for a long time. When you have been in power for nearly a decade, you become sloppy. Thus, Baird and his unnamed pals partying it up in the High Commissioners’ apartment – or Kenney and Harper endorsing a troglodyte like Anders, who is going down to certain defeat.
With the passage of time, governing parties lose touch. They spend too much time with bureaucrats and each other, and not enough with real folks. They start representing Ottawa to home – instead of representing home to Ottawa.
Rob Anders’ defeat isn’t just his. It’s the defeat of his party’s leaders, too – and it matters.