Sunday, June 16, 2013

On tests of character

Dr. Dawg has rightly pointed out the Cons' attempt to invent a story based on Tom Mulcair's audacity in driving to his own parking spot. (Though we can be assured that members of the limo-propelled Con cabinet will never face precisely that same scenario.)

But if there is a story worth noting, I'd see it in comparing Mulcair's response to a simple misunderstanding to the way far worse stories have been handled by his political counterparts.

Here's Mulcair's reaction to the incident:
Thursday morning, however, a new guard was on duty at the checkpoint and she didn't recognize Mulcair.

"I waved. I thought I got a wave back but I didn't so we wound up having the slowest promenade in front of the building. I went around the back (followed by) another officer who'd been dispatched to see who it was. The other officer was able to verify my identity and that was it."

A while later, Mulcair said he went back to the checkpoint to clear up the misunderstanding.

"When I went back and talked to her, she was apologetic and I apologized myself for the misunderstanding. I didn't want the misunderstanding to last. She felt bad, I felt bad, we shook hands and that was the end of it."
In contrast, let's take a look at the Cons' responses to incidents involving deliberate breaches of security check points. First, there's Pierre Poilievre:
Poilievre, who could not be reached Friday for comment, apologized to the RCMP two days later after he learned CTV was doing a story on the incident.
And second, there's Helena Guergis:
Junior cabinet minister Helena Guergis has issued an apology for her rude behaviour at the Charlottetown airport, where she allegedly threw a tantrum and screamed obscenities at staff who asked her to take her boots off for security screening.
 "On Feb. 19, I was rushing to catch a flight at the Charlottetown airport and spoke emotionally to some staff members," Guergis, the minister of state for the status of women, said in an unusually abject mea culpa. "Regardless of my workload and personal circumstances, it was not appropriate and I apologize to airport and Air Canada staff."
In her apology issued Thursday, Guergis said: "It was certainly not my intention to create any additional stress for airport or Air Canada employees who already have a very difficult job."
And as an added bonus, here's Justin Trudeau today on the tens of thousands of dollars he's charged to charities and public institutions in speaking fees:
Liberal leader Justin Trudeau says he is willing to make amends with any charitable organizations that have paid him to speak and felt they did not get their money’s worth.

“I am going to sit down with every single one of them and make this right,” Trudeau told CTV’s Question Period Sunday, addressing an issue first raised in reports about his work with The Grace Foundation, which supports a seniors’ home.
“I’m willing to pay all the money back, if that’s what it comes to,” Trudeau said during an interview with CTV’s Question Period.
So where can we see a difference in the respective reactions? I'd see two key points worth noting.

First, in the cases of the Con and Lib examples, the MPs involved did absolutely nothing to try to address concerns until after the stories had surfaced in the media. Which signals that each sees the matter as solely one of public relations (see in particular Trudeau's "if that's what it comes to" as to his willingness to address charities' concerns), rather than a matter of personal integrity. In contrast, in Mulcair's case the effort to follow up with the new guard took place shortly after the events in question - at a point when it may not have been clear whether the events resulted in a story at all.

And more importantly, Mulcair actually reached out to the person involved and spoke to her directly - both to determine what happened, and to facilitate apologies on both sides.

Now, most of us might consider such politeness to be common courtesy. But it stands in stark contrast to the choice of Poilievre, Guergis and Trudeau to run to the media and issue blanket statements intended to depersonalize their issues - rather than to talk personally to the people individually affected by their actions.

In other words, the personal interactions necessary for any politician to do his or her job offer plenty of opportunities to test character based on variations of the Waiter Rule. And Mulcair looks to have passed with flying colours - while there's precious little evidence that the culture of the NDP's competition encourages their leaders to meet the standard.

[Edit: fixed typo.]

1 comment:

  1. Given the Conservatives' egregious contempt for democracy and the people that are supposedly represented through it, the contrasts in behaviour that your post points out make complete sense.